Helping Clients Deal With Obesity

As a physical trainer, you play a crucial role in educating your clients about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and in turn improving the overall quality of their lives. Obesity is a significant health factor that greatly affects your clients’ quality of life. It is a leading risk factor for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and depression. By educating yourself on the causes and effects of obesity, you can provide better service and gain more client loyalty.


The Center for Disease Control defines obesity as having a body mass index of 30 or higher (Source: ). One out of three adults in the U.S., about 97 million people, are considered overweight or obese. This statistic has almost doubled since 1960. Each year the average American is getting heavier and heavier, gaining between one-half pound to one pound.

The Life-Threatening Effects of Obesity

Currently the American Heart Association recognizes obesity as a major risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for adults in America. Along with heart disease, obesity contributes to a significant number of other physical and mental health problems in Americans.

According to the CDC, the National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, obesity contributes to the following health problems:

•    Cancer of the breast, uterus, prostate and colon
•    Depression
•    Diabetes
•    Gallbladder disease
•    Heart Disease
•    Hypertension
•    Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
•    Incontinence    
•    Osteoarthritis
•    Pregnancy and other gynecological complications
•    Sleep apnea and other respiratory problems
•    Stroke

Hence, significant weight gain leads to some of the most life-threatening diseases affecting Americans. Reducing weight gain and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a matter of life and death, not simply quality of life.

Using Physical Activity to Treat and Prevent Obesity

Treating obesity means changing one’s entire lifestyle. This is a slow and challenging process, but certainly attainable. Setting realistic goals and objectives is the first thing to do. Current recommendations suggest reducing body weight by 5 to 10 percent over a six month period, which is a loss of about 1 to 2 pounds a week.

Most health organizations agree that physical inactivity is one of the major causes of obesity but how does someone who reaches a life-threatening body weight realistically lose weight? By steadily increasing physical activity.

Since most people suffering from obesity lead inactive and sedentary lifestyles, physical activity could simply be walking for 10 to fifteen minutes. Eventually, clients should set a minimum goal of at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

Though you may not be a registered dietician, as a trainer it is important to discuss the importance of diet and nutrition with your clients. They need to understand that nutrition and exercise combine to effectively achieve maximum weight loss and reduce their risk for obesity and other major health risks.


These resources are for the purpose of personal trainer growth and development through Continuing Education which advances the knowledge of fitness professionals. This article is written for NFPT Certified Personal Trainers to receive Continuing Education Credit (CEC). Please contact NFPT at 800.729.6378 or [email protected] with questions or for more information.