AIMS: Despite increased recognition as a chronic disease, obesity remains greatly underdiagnosed and undertreated. We aimed to identify international perceptions, attitudes, behaviours and barriers to effective obesity care in people with obesity (PwO) and healthcare professionals (HCPs).
METHODS: An online survey was conducted in 11 countries. Participants were adults with obesity and HCPs primarily in direct patient care.
RESULTS: 14,502 PwO and 2,785 HCPs completed the survey. Most PwO (68%) and HCPs (88%) agreed that obesity is a disease. However, 81% of PwO assumed complete responsibility for their own weight loss and only 44% of HCPs agreed that genetics were a barrier. There was a median of 3 (mean 6) years between the time when PwO started struggling with excess weight or obesity and when they first discussed their weight with an HCP. Many PwO were concerned about the impact of excess weight on health (46%) and were motivated to lose weight (48%). Most PwO (68%) would like their HCP to initiate a conversation about weight and only 3% were offended by such a conversation. Among HCPs, belief that patients have little interest/motivation for weight management may constitute a barrier for weight management conversations. When discussed, HCPs typically recommended lifestyle changes; but more referrals and follow-up appointments are required.
CONCLUSIONS: Our international dataset reveals a need to increase understanding of obesity and improve education on its physiological basis and clinical management. Realisation that PwO are motivated to lose weight offers an opportunity for HCPs to initiate earlier weight management conversations.
SPONSOR: Novo Nordisk. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.