Losing weight: how your GP can help 

A GP talks about visiting your doctor to get help with losing weight. He describes how you'll be assessed and given an individually tailored weight loss plan. Elinor, who had health problems caused by her weight, explains why she asked her GP for help instead of choosing to follow a commercial diet.

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Transcript of Losing weight: how your GP can help

If you visit a GP for help with losing weight,

typically, your GP will weigh you, talk to you

and discover what you're doing already.

They'll be able to work out how overweight you are

and set targets as to the amount of weight you need to lose.

They'll talk to you about eating healthily and about taking exercise.

They may refer you to a weight-management programme.

In a small number of cases, they may be able to help you with medication.

(woman) I've overweight as long as I can remember.

Then I started getting problems in my back and my legs.

After a lot of tests, they decided that was weight related.

That was when I knew I had to do something about it.

(GP) The healthiest way of losing weight

is to look at this as a long-term thing.

It's not just losing weight,

it's losing weight healthily and keeping the weight off.

Really, things like looking at diet and exercise is more important for that

than the apparently quick fixes such as medication or surgery.

You've got to look both at how much you're eating and what you're eating.

We want you to be eating healthily,

with your five portions of fruit and vegetables,

cutting down on fats, particularly saturated fats.

We want you to take more exercise,

which could be something as simple as walking regularly

right up to full-blown sessions at the gym.

All of these things help keep you fit and help you lose weight.

I'd looked at WeightWatchers and Slimming World

but the meetings were not on at convenient times for me.

Also it could be quite an expensive way of doing it.

I thought at that point it would be worth talking to my GP.

He started by taking my weight which was higher than I thought.

I was two stone more than I'd expected to be.

I hadn't realised how high my BMI was.

32 put me into the clinically obese range.

He said he would offer me orlistat

and he would put a referral to a dietician in,

so that I could get help on both sides.

As far as medical treatments, there's a drug called orlistat

which is available as Xenical

or even over the counter from your pharmacist as Alli.

Orlistat works by reducing the amount of fat

that the body absorbs from your food.

That means you get less calories and hopefully, you lose weight.

(Elinor) After a while, I found I was losing more weight from the eating plan

than I was from the orlistat,

so I decided to come off the orlistat.

At first, I was very consciously aware

that I'm allowed this, that and the other.

But because I knew I'd found a way to lose weight

that I thought would be successful,

I was quite excited about it, so I didn't mind it.

I was looking forward to being at a healthy weight.

After a while, I knew what I could eat and didn't think about it any more.

Last time I checked, my BMI was about 24.

I'm 57 and a half kilos. That was about a week ago.

I'm trying to ease up a little bit now but without totally abandoning the plan.

I don't want to put the weight back on

but I've not got the pressure of trying to get down to a healthy weight now

because I am at a healthy weight.

(GP) For a small number of people, weight-loss surgery might be advised.

What we would look for is that you are very severely overweight.

That normally means having a body mass index greater than 40.

Or it might be slightly lower than that if you have some other severe illness

such as diabetes or sleep apnea, where you stop breathing when you're sleeping.

Weight-loss surgery normally works

either by restricting the space in your stomach

or by bypassing part of the gut.

The way that typically you restrict the amount of space in the stomach

is to use a band around the stomach which can be inflated.

That means there's less space for food so you can't eat as much.

Bypass surgery, as the name suggests,

moves the food through the gut a bit quicker so less food is absorbed.

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