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Study Reveals Reasons Why People with Obesity are not Receiving Adequate Care

New international study shows that while many healthcare professionals recognise obesity as a disease, most people living with the disease are still not being treated.

Eight in ten people with obesity (PwO) believe it is their sole responsibility to lose weight, and wait six years after initial weight loss struggles before speaking to their healthcare professional (HCP), according to new global data from ACTION IO (Awareness, Care, and Treatment In Obesity MaNagement – an International Observation). These findings come at the same time as several global and European medical organisations have recognised obesity as a disease, but the way obesity is being treated and the outcome of such treatment is still highly variable.

ACTION IO surveyed over 14,500 PwO and nearly 2,800 HCPs from 11 countries in five continents. The objectives of the ACTION IO Study were to identify perceptions, attitudes, behaviours, and potential barriers to effective obesity care across PwO and HCPs. The results, announced today at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO), mark the first time key barriers to obesity care have been identified on a truly international scale. Results from the study highlight that:

  • 71% of HCPs believe PwO are not interested in losing weight, while only 7% of PwO said they are not interested, illustrating a clear gap in perception regarding interest to lose weight
  • 81% of PwO had made at least one serious weight-loss effort in the past, while HCPs believed only 35% of their patients had done so

“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,” commented Professor Ian Caterson, ACTION IO Lead Investigator and Foundation Director of the Boden Institute at the University of Sydney. “The ACTION IO findings provide important evidence of barriers to good, consistent obesity management. As a healthcare community, we must address these barriers to care and initiate earlier, effective weight management conversations with PwO without fear of offence. PwO clearly want to lose weight and we should support them.”

ACTION IO was published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism on 29th April 2019.

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