Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Obesity treatments

2-minute read

See your doctor if you are obese and you wish to lose weight to talk about things like:

  • what type of diet is right for you
  • how much and what type of exercise is appropriate for you
  • whether you need further testing or treatments for obesity-related conditions
  • whether you need treatment for an underlying cause of obesity such as polycystic ovary syndrome

Your doctor may refer you to other professionals and services for advice such as an exercise physiologist, a physiotherapist or a dietitian.

Lifestyle changes

There is no ‘magic wand’ treatment for obesity. Weight loss programs take commitment and can be challenging, but they can be successful for people who stick with them.

If you want to lose weight, you will have to combine a kilojoule-controlled diet with regular exercise.


If you're overweight or obese, losing weight can bring you a range of important health benefits. The key to success is making realistic changes to your diet and level of physical activity that can become a part of your daily routine. Read more about obesity and exercise.


Most people will need to reduce their daily kilojoule intake in order to lose weight. One way to do this is to swap unhealthy and high energy food choices such as fast food, processed food and sugary drinks (including alcohol) for healthier choices. Read more about obesity and diet.


There are several prescription and non-prescription medicines available for weight loss in Australia, however it's important to use these in combination with reduced kilojoule intake and increased physical activity. Some work by reducing the amount of fat absorbed during digestion, others work by suppressing appetite.

Weight loss medicines have side effects and aren't suitable for all people - and are not recommended if you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting a weight loss medicine to find out if it is right for you.


Obesity surgery or bariatric surgery can help some people to lose weight by changing the way the body digests and absorbs food.

To decide whether or not someone qualifies for obesity surgery, a doctor will take into account such things as having a very high body mass index (BMI), being unable to lose weight by other means, and being physically unable to perform daily tasks. To find out more about surgery for obesity talk to your doctor.

Last reviewed: July 2018

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

An Introduction to Obesity Treatments | myVMC

Methods for weight loss include reducing calorie intake, increasing physical activity, behaviour therapy as well as pharmacological (drug) and surgical treatments for obesity.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Weight Loss Drugs | myVMC

Weight loss drugs are designed to help people who are classified as obese lose weight. The main aims in the treatment of obesity are to lose weight, maintain weight loss and prevent any further weight gain.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Lifestyle Changes for Obesity and Weight Loss | myVMC

Lifestyle modification, with a reduction of energy intake and an increase in physical activity, is essential in all treatment strategies for obesity and weight loss.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Obesity and Weight Loss | myVMC

Weight loss: Traditional methods for weight loss include reducing calorie intake, increasing physical activity, and behaviour therapy.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Surgery for Weight Loss | myVMC

Severalsurgical techniques have been used to treat obesity including gastric bypass, gastroplasty, gastric banding and liposuction.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Weight Loss (CBT) | myVMC

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)is a type of psychological therapy that can be used to treat obesity by identifying thought patterns related to unhealthy eating, helping a person to increase theirmotivation to do exercise, giving them coping skills or changing their body image and self-esteem.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Obesity surgery

Obesity surgery can offer rapid weight loss but, to be successful, it must be accompanied by healthy eating habits and regular exercise. If the surgery is reversed, weight will inevitably be regained (even with the best of willpower), as the genetic tendency resulting in obesity can never be cured and is only modified by surgery.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

About Overweight and Obesity

Specific information on overweight and obesity is provided, including: prevalence of overweight and obesity; how overweight and obesity is defined; calculate your BMI (for adults only); causes of overweight and obesity; health consequences; economic consequences.

Read more on Department of Health website

Obesity | myVMC

Obesity is defined as being 20% or more over the maximum desirable weight for a mans height or 25% or more in females

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Overweight and obesity in adults

Defining overweight and obesity in adults

Read more on WA Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo