The health risks of obesity are only too obvious but, despite this, its prevalence continues to increase. It is a leading cause of both physical and psychological ill health, and is notoriously difficult to treat. For this reason, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) emphasises the importance of preventing obesity and has produced guidelines on the most effective approaches. Many health professionals wish to support their patients with weight loss, but research has shown that they do not always feel well equipped to do this. In this article we review the importance of a behavioural approach in managing overweight and obesity and provide practical advice on how to help overweight patients achieve sustainable behavioural change.