Obesity: still too "do-it-yourself" to lose weight
In Italy, 62 percent of people with obesity are aware that obesity is a disease, but despite this, 84 percent try to lose weight without seeking medical attention. Italian data from the ACTION-IO study presented today in Rome during the National Congress of the Italian Society of Internal Medicine.
So many obese people try to lose weight independently
In Italy, 62 percent of people with obesity are aware that obesity is a disease but, despite this, 84 percent try to lose weight on their own and take an average of six years to see a doctor. These are some of the data that emerged from the survey conducted in Italy among about 1.500 obese people and 300 physicians within the international ACTION-IO study, presented today in Rome at the National Congress of the Italian Society of Internal Medicine (SIMI).
The objective of the international ACTION-IO (Awareness, Care, and Treatment In Obesity MaNagement – an International Observation) study, which involved 11 countries on five continents, was to identify perceptions, attitudes, behaviors, and barriers to obesity care for both people with obesity and physicians.
Obesity as a real disease
For example, almost all physicians surveyed (91 percent) recognize obesity as a real disease, but only 37 percent believe that genetics can be an obstacle to weight loss. "Obesity is a heterogeneous and multifactorial disease, to the development of which genetic and biological as well as environmental factors contribute," says Paolo Sbraccia, IBDO Foundation Vice President and Full Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata," who continues, "Obesity should be considered a true chronic relapsing disease that causes multiple disabling and potentially lethal complications; these include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, ischemic heart disease, many cancers especially of the gastrointestinal tract, sleep apnea syndrome, osteoarthritis just to name the main ones.".
Another finding from the study suggests that about half of the people with obesity who participated in the survey would like to lose weight, most of them (41 percent) because they are concerned about their health, and although they are making serious efforts, they are getting little results on their own. It also emerged that 55 percent of people with obesity would like the physician to be the one to initiate a conversation about weight, a desire perhaps hindered by the widespread idea among health professionals that people with obesity are not motivated to lose weight.
"In line with the international ACTION-IO study, the Italian data reveal that there is a need to implement knowledge about obesity by improving education related to the biological basis and clinical control of the disease and challenging the misperception that obesity is within the individual’s control. In addition, to ensure a valid course of treatment, it is essential that the physician promote helpful conversations about weight loss, without bias regarding a possible lack of interest on the part of the person with obesity," concludes Paolo Sbraccia.
The ACTION-IO Study
ACTION-IO is the largest study conducted to investigate barriers to managing obesity from both the perspective of people with obesity and physicians. The study involved more than 14.500 people with obesity and nearly 2.800 health professionals from 11 countries, including: Australia, Chile, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. ACTION-IO complements the information gained from the ACTION studies conducted in the United States and Canada, providing a general snapshot regarding barriers in the treatment of obesity in the global population, as well as evidence tailored to each country involved to indicate concrete actions to be taken in the fight against obesity.
ACTION-IO and ACTION studies conducted in the United States and Canada were sponsored and funded by Novo Nordisk.
Obesity is a chronic disease that requires long-term management1. Obesity is a complex, multifactorial disease influenced by genetic, physiological, environmental, and psychological factors and is associated with numerous serious health consequences2,3.
The’increasing prevalence of obesity globally represents a public health problem with serious cost implications for health systems4,5. Despite its high prevalence, many people with obesity do not receive support for their efforts to lose weight, and the disease remains substantially misdiagnosed and underreported6.