New study finds that many people with obesity consider themselves healthy despite having obesity-related comorbidities
Initial data from Awareness, Care & Treatment In Obesity MaNagement (ACTION), the first nationwide U.S. study to investigate barriers to obesity management, were presented on November 6 at ObesityWeek 2015, the 3rd annual combined congress of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and The Obesity Society. Notably, results highlight a general lack of understanding of obesity as a disease and its impact on the body, with the majority of people with obesity (75%) indicating that they perceive themselves as “healthy,” although nearly three-quarters had obesity-related comorbidities. 1
“People with obesity often struggle to successfully manage their weight and obtain the help they need to maintain weight loss and improve their health,” said Joseph Nadglowski, president of the Obesity Action Coalition, a non-profit coalition helping individuals affected by obesity. “The findings from the ACTION study indicate that the challenges many people with obesity face may stem from their misperception that obesity is a lifestyle issue that can be overcome simply by eating less and exercising more, instead of a complex disease that requires a comprehensive care approach.”
Other findings from this early qualitative phase of the ACTION study highlight differences in perception of obesity between people with obesity and health care professionals. While people with obesity and health care professionals considered obesity a combination of disease and lifestyle, their primary emphasis differed widely—the majority of people with obesity (65%) considered obesity primarily a lifestyle issue, while the majority of health care professionals (88%) considered obesity a disease. 1 All results were drawn from focus groups and interviews conducted with people with obesity (n=43) and health care professionals (n=24).
“These variances in perception of obesity and its causes may be one reason why patients and clinicians are not engaging in the necessary conversations that lead to solution-based strategies to address weight-related health problems and its long-term management. The aim of ACTION is to gain a better understanding of all the barriers that prevent effective obesity care and to devise successful approaches to overcome modifiable barriers,” said Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar, president of The Obesity Society and member of the Steering Committee for the ACTION study.
Additional disparities between people with obesity and health care professionals related to perceptions of key barriers to weight management were identified in this initial qualitative phase of the ACTION study. The disparities relate to food habits, social relationships, and limited understanding of how to lose weight. 1
The initial qualitative findings of the ACTION study indicate that multiple barriers prevent effective obesity care; this will be further investigated on a larger scale in the subsequent phase of quantitative research. Currently underway, the quantitative study draws from an online survey conducted with 3,000 people with obesity, 600 health care professionals, and 150 employers. The full results of the ACTION study will be released in 2016.
The ACTION study is conducted in the United States and led by a multidisciplinary Steering Committee consisting of representatives from The Obesity Society (TOS), the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI)—representing employers, as well as obesity experts in the fields of primary care, endocrinology, psychology and nursing. The study is sponsored by Novo Nordisk. For more information, visit novonordisk-us.com
About Obesity Obesity is a disease 2 that requires long-term management. It is associated with many serious health consequences and decreased life expectancy. 3, 4 It is a complex and multifactorial disease that is influenced by genetic, physiological, environmental and psychological factors. 5 The global increase in the prevalence of obesity is a public health issue that has severe cost implications to health care systems. 6,7 In the United States, approximately 35% of adults, or nearly 79 million adults, live with obesity. 8,9 Despite the high prevalence of obesity, many people with obesity lack support in their efforts to lose weight and the disease remains substantially underdiagnosed and underreported. 10
About ACTION Awareness, Care & Treatment In Obesity MaNagement (ACTION) is a U.S. study investigating the barriers to obesity management by examining the perspectives of three groups: health care professionals, people with obesity and employers. The ultimate objectives of ACTION are to create a better understanding of the barriers that prevent people with obesity from receiving the medical care and support they need to improve health, to generate insights to guide collaborative action to improve care, education and support for people with obesity, and to create a platform for communication, to help change how patients, health care professionals and employers approach obesity care.
References 1 Kaplan L Golden A, O’Neil P, et al. Divergence of patient and clinician perceptions of obesity and weight management. Poster presented at: ObesityWeek 2015; November 2-6, 2015; Los Angeles, CA. 2 American Medical Association. Business of the American Medical Association House of Delegates 2013 Annual Meeting annotated reference committee reports: reference committee D. http://www.ama-assn.org/assets/meeting/2013a/a13-addendum-refcomm-d.pdf. Approved June 8, 2014. Accessed September 8, 2014. 3 Guh DP, Zhang W, Bansback N , et al . The incidence of co-morbidities related to obesity and overweight: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health. 2009;9(88):1-20. 4 Peeters A, Barendregt JJ, Willekens F, et al . Obesity in adulthood and its consequences for life expectancy: a life-table analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2003;138:24-32. 5 Wright SM, Aronne LJ. Causes of obesity. Abdom Imaging. 2012;37(5):730-732. 6 World Health Organization. Fact sheet no. 311: obesity and overweight. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/. Updated January 2015. Accessed October 6, 2015. 7 Cawley J, Meyerhoefer C. The medical care costs of obesity: an instrumental variables approach. J Health Economics. 2012;31(1):219-230. 8 Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. JAMA. 2014;311(8):806-814. 9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adult obesity facts. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html. Updated September 21, 2015. Accessed October 26, 2015. 10 Crawford AG, Cote C, Couto J, et al. Prevalence of Obesity, Type II Diabetes Mellitus, Hyperlipidemia, and Hypertension in the United States: Findings from the GE Centricity Electronic Medical Record Database. Popul Health Manag. 2010;13:151–161.
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