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A new obesity survey shows that many Americans are in denial about their need to lose weight and are not being told by their doctor to do so.

The National Consumers League recently published a survey about American’s misconceptions about their weight problems and will be announcing new Web resources for consumers in need of weight loss support. The survey of 1,978 adult Americans is part of the NCL’s “Choose to Lose” campaign, an effort to help consumers honestly evaluate their weight and work with their doctors to drop excess pounds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 66 percent of the nation’s adults are considered overweight (33 percent) or obese (33 percent) on the BMI scale.

However, the researchers discovered that only 12 percent of U.S. adults say that they have ever been told by a health care professional that they are obese.

The surveyed showed that people were much more likely to call themselves “overweight” than “obese,” and consistently considered themselves as being in less severely overweight groups.

The study also revealed:

-52 percent of respondents referred to themselves as overweight, and only 12 percent as obese. According to their height and weight, however, 35 percent were actually “overweight” and 34 percent were obese.

-Among respondents considered obese, 82 percent deem themselves to be simply “overweight.”

-Only 20 percent of respondents knew their BMI number prior to the survey.

“This discrepancy between perceived and actual weight categories suggests that the stigma associated with being obese is a powerful one; many consumers would benefit from a more realistic picture of their own weight,” said NCL President Linda Golodner.

“We wanted to find out how consumers feel about their weight, their health, their need to lose pounds, and the stigma surrounding treatment options. We found that while many consumers view obesity as a legitimate disease, they don’t want to identify themselves as ‘obese.’ Weight is a highly personalized, complicated issue, and many overweight and obese consumers are in need of help.”

The survey also covered participants’ attitudes toward obesity:

-78 percent said that obesity is a serious disease and 54 percent said that it requires medical treatment.

-61 percent said that obesity is considered taboo in society

-50 percent attributed obesity to a “lack of willpower”

-37 percent agreed that obese people should pay more for health insurance

-27 percent believes that it is still acceptable to make fun of obesity

-Although 79 percent of participants responded weight-loss surgery can be a life-saving treatment, 49 percent agree that there is a stigma associated with using surgery as a weight-loss option. 47 percent held a negative view of weight-loss surgery.

“There is a serious disconnect between an individual’s perception of both what it means to be overweight and the health risks of carrying extra pounds,” said Madelyn H. Fernstrom, PhD, CNS, Associate Professor and founding Director of the Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“Consumers need accurate information about the lifestyle changes they need to make to not only lose weight, but keep it off. When it comes to losing weight, one size does not fit all, and obesity treatment should be individually tailored, with careful consideration to both biological and behavioral factors.”

As far as personal weight issues go, the survey found that 64 percent is not happy with their current weight. Meanwhile, 77 percent has tried to lose weight before and 60 percent agreed that it was one of the hardest things they have ever tried to do.

When responding about what weight loss programs they were most familiar with, 56 percent said organized weight loss programs, 42 percent said over-the-counter medication, 41 percent said weight-loss surgery, and 39 have tried prescription medications.

About half of people surveyed said they have talked to their doctors about losing weight. Obese patients are more likely to have done so, according to the study. 59 percent reported that their doctors ...    Continue

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