People with obesity in UK wait nine years before seeking help for weight
People with obesity in the UK wait longer than the global average before discussing their weight with a healthcare expert.
This is according to a new study carried out by the European Association for the Study of Obesity.
The data reveals that, on average, people with obesity in the UK do not seek help from a healthcare professional for nine years.
In comparison, the global average stands at six years.
As a result of the delay, people with obesity are at additional risk of developing obesity-related conditions. These include obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), type two diabetes and cancer.
Reasons for the findings include participants feeling it was their own responsibility to manage their additional weight. As well as doctors in the UK perceiving their patients to lack the motivation to lose weight.
The online survey was carried out in 11 countries, including Australia, Italy, Spain and UAE.
Some UK findings include:
- Two thirds of people with obesity and most healthcare professionals (86%) agreed obesity is a chronic disease
- Only 63% of healthcare professionals recognised the impact of obesity on health. This compares to an average of 76% from all 11 countries surveyed
- Obesity was also rated less serious than diabetes, cancer and stroke by 40%, 65% and 62% of healthcare professionals respectively
- Around 78% of people with obesity had made one or more serious weight loss efforts
- Additionally, one in 10 primary care physicians and one in six secondary care professionals thought their patients were motivated to lose weight.
Change in narrative
‘UK healthcare providers underrate the impact of obesity on health, with few believing their patients are motivated to lose weight,’ said the study’s authors.
‘In the UK, the time from the start of struggles with weight until the initial discussion with their doctor – which is the gateway to treatment in the UK NHS – was longer than the global average. We believe addressing this time gap is key. Such a delay puts people with obesity at increased risk of developing obesity related conditions.
‘The narrative around obesity must be changed in the UK for the whole population, including people with obesity, with less focus on individual responsibility which encourages self-blame and stigma.’
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