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How to Encourage a Friend to Lose Weight

by Paige Johansen, studioD

According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, two-thirds of people in the United States are obese or overweight. Broaching the subject of weight loss can be tricky. Most overweight people already know they are overweight and being reminded can feel more hurtful than caring. On the other hand, discussions about weight are sometimes considered taboo, making a dialogue about how to achieve a healthier lifestyle difficult. Despite these obstacles, if your friend's health is in danger, you can support him or her in an effort to lead a healthier life.

How to Help a Friend Lose Weight

Consider your approach. First, make sure that weight is actually a health issue for your friend. Some people are healthy despite being overweight or may consider weight to have a lower priority than other aspects of their health. Of course, if your friend is obese or is clearly leading an unhealthy lifestyle, you may have justification for your concern. If your friend mentions something about food, weight or fitting into clothes, you can ask questions about how he feels about his weight in order to open a dialogue. If you are close with your friend and feel is appropriate, you can tell him how much you care and that you want him to be around for a long time. Ask if there is anything you can do to help incorporate healthier habits into his life. It is more important to focus on health than weight.

Be actively supportive. Be a good example. You can encourage your friend by asking him to go on walks with you or by joining a gym together. If you go out to eat, you can show solidarity by picking a restaurant with healthy choices. Be positive and encouraging of healthy changes and celebrate successes - but don't center celebrations around food. If your friend is on a certain diet or exercise program, ask about the program and learn about your friend's goals.

Listen. One of the most important ways to show your supportive is to demonstrate that you care about your friend as a person, rather than their weight or diet. If your friend has a bad day or "falls off the wagon," don't judge. Remember that being supportive doesn't mean that you're the food or exercise police. Your friend won't want to hang out with you if you comment on what he is eating, but if you're a good listener and come from a place of empathy and understanding you can be an important part of your friend's weight loss.

About the Author

Paige Johansen has been writing professionally since 2003. She holds a B.A. in psychology and English from Cornell University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from The University of Virginia. Between degrees, she worked in the fashion industry for two years.

Photo Credits

  • Matt Cardy/Getty Images News/Getty Images