How many of you know that you are obese? Most of us may think we are not but the truth may be different. A research from ten countries presented at this year’s European Congress of Obesity (ECO) shows that nearly one quarter of adolescents living with obesity (ALWO) (24 per cent) are not aware that they have obesity.
Though not aware, most ALwo surveyed (85 per cent) are worried about the impact of their weight on their future health. The findings comes from the ACTION teens global survey study, supported by Novo Nordisk, who manufacture medications for obesity and diabetes, in collaboration with a steering group of intemational experts and patient advocates that include EASO President Professor Jason Halford, University of Leeds, UK, and Vicki Mooney, ACTION teens study author and Chairwoman of the Irish Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ICPO) and Executive Director of the European Coalition for People living with Obesity (ECPO).
Australia, Colombia, Italy, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey and the United Kingdom are the countries were the study was held
A total of 5,275 ALWO* (aged 12-<18 years), 5,389 caregivers (CGs) and 2,323 healthcare professionals (HCPs) were surveyed online, telephone calls and in-person meetings on a wide range of topics. These included attitudes towards obesity and its impact, motivations/barriers to weight loss and number of weight loss attempts. The health care professionals were most likely (89 per cent) and Caregivers least likely (67 per cent), to indicate obesity has a strong impact on a person’s overall health and well being. Most of the people thought obesity was at least as, or more, impactful than heart disease, cancer or diabetes, among other conditions.
- Most ALWO feel they need to depend on themselves to change their weight status, with a larger proportion of AIWO (65%) than caregivers (37%) and health care professionals (27%) feeling that losing weight was solely the ALWO’s responsibility.
- More than half (58%) of ALWO had tried to lose weight in the past year, three-quarters 75% of ALWO were somewhat/very likely to attempt to lose weight in the next o months.
- Fewer caregivers reported that their ‘linked’ ALWO attempted weight loss (WL) over the past Ivčar (41%) and that their ALWO was somewhat/very likely to attempt to lose weight in the next 6 months (63%), health care professionals indicated that 38% of their ALWO patients had made a serious attempt in the past year.
- The top three barriers to losing weight reported by ALWO were not being able to control hunger (38%), lack of motivation (34%), and enjoying eating unhealthy food (32%).
- One in three felt they could not talk to either parent about their weight; around one in three could talk to their doctor, a quarter felt they could talk to their boyfriend or girlfriend with similar proportion (22%) feeling able to discuss the subject with a sibling. One in 10 ALWO surveyed felt they could talk to no-one at all about their weight.
- For ALWO, the most popular source of information for healthy lifestyles, weight management and weight loss were YouTube (34%), followed by social media (28%), family and friends (25%), search engines (25%), and doctors (24%).
Study co-author Vicki Mooney said: “The results show us teenagers want to lose weight and improve their health. However, one in three teenagers feel unable to speak to their parents about it and many revert to social media for guidance. It is hard to fathom the pressure for these teenagers, especially as two-thirds believe it is their sole responsibility to lose weight, with many of their parents/caregivers struggling to know how to best care for their child.”
“The impact of obesity – in children and adults – on individuals, society and our healthcare systems should not be underestimated. There is urgent need for governments and society to recognise and treat obesity as a disease, so that more teens can get the right support to help them live happier and healthier lives,” said lead author Professor Jason Halford, Head of the School of Psychology, University of Leeds, and President of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO).