Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 September 2020

Most health care workers don't believe obese people want to lose weight, global report finds

People with obesity reluctant to seek help due to fears their weight issues are self-inflicted

  The global approach to tackling obesity must improve, said Professor Ian Caterson, lead researcher for the Action 1O report. Leslie Pableo for The National                              
  The global approach to tackling obesity must improve, said Professor Ian Caterson, lead researcher for the Action 1O report. Leslie Pableo for The National                              

Seven out of ten health care professionals believe obese people are not interested in losing weight, a global report has found.

But an overwhelming majority of people with obesity surveyed, a total of 93 per cent, insisted they are motivated to do so.

The Action 1O study - which recorded the views of 14,500 obese people and 2,800 health workers from 11 countries, including the UAE - laid bare a huge divide in perceptions between those with an excessive Body Mass Index and the health care working tasked with helping them to improve their physical well being.

The findings of the report were presented at the annual European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday.

The survey also revealed that respondents are likely to wait many year to seek professional help, due to fears their weight issues are self-inflicted.

According to researchers, 71 per cent of health professionals believe obese people are not interested in losing weight, while only seven per cent of the latter said they were not motivated to do so.

“This is a different barrier that we have not addressed. If people are just making an assumption that people with obesity don’t want to tackle it or aren’t motivated, we’ve got to use a different sort of education,” said Dr Carly Hughes, from the UK.

“We’ve actually got to break down those implicit biases and barriers against discussing weight.”

the current approach to obesity management falls short compared to other similar chronic diseases

Professor Ian Caterson, of Sydney University.

While health professionals and ordinary people largely agreed that being severely overweight is a chronic and damaging disease, 81 per cent of obese “assumed complete responsibility” for their own weight loss.

This often resulted in multiple attempts to lower their BMI’s to little affect.

“It is clear that many people have made serious attempts to lose weight but this may not always be recognised by their healthcare provider,” said Nick Finer, a clinical scientist at Novo Nordisk, a global health care company.

“We hope that these findings can help remove the barriers between people living with obesity and their health care providers and drive more active engagement in the treatment of obesity.”

On average those suffering from obesity would wait six years, though occasionally much longer, between struggling with their size and bringing it up with professionals. Typically they would falsely believe they were not genuinely ill or believed it was their fault.

The breakdown of statistics for each country covered in the report - which also includes Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan, South Korea and the UK - is due to be released in June.

“Obesity is one of the most complex, chronic health challenges faced by our society today, yet the current approach to obesity management falls short compared to other similar chronic diseases,” said lead researcher Professor Ian Caterson, of Sydney University.

He said it was clear people wanted to lose weight and that they needed greater support.

It was found that family doctors often felt uncomfortable raising the issue directly with the patient because it is often seen as a personal matter.

“One of the things we doctors always say is ‘we don’t want to bring it up, it will embarrass people, it’ll drive them away from out practice, they won’t come back',” said Prof Caterson.

Professionals were urged to set realistic goals that could be built upon when achieved, rather than pushing obese people to immediately pursue huge weight loss.

Those doing the latter often failed to progress at time where society is beset by social media and magazines promoting the so-called ideal body.

Updated: April 29, 2019 04:43 PM

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