Obese feel traumatised by ‘negative’ publicity

June 18th, 2008 - 1:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 18 (IANS) The obese feel overwhelmed and victimised by “negative” publicity about their condition, made worse by media reports and medical pronouncements. A study conducted by Monash University has suggested that exhortations by media and medical experts to engage in physical activity and eat healthy stuff is likely to do more harm than good, said Paul Komesaroff, co-author of the study.

“The experience of being obese is often painful,” he said. “Many obese people have major social and psychological issues that doctors and public health policies often do not address.”

Participants in the study were strongly of the view that they felt victimised by the current social attitudes about obesity. They also resented being told that they are now regarded as “sick”, the study found.

Most participants reported that they had tried weight loss remedies that their physician recommended and were generally dissatisfied with the help doctors provided.

Healthcare providers’ efforts to convince the overweight to shed weight are largely unsuccessful, Komesaroff said, possibly because they do not understand the key issues that obese people face.

The researchers conducted hour-long personal interviews with each of the 76 obese individuals (62 females, 14 males), aged between 16 and 72 years, who took part in the study.

Nearly 50 percent described poor mental and emotional health, including depression, related to their obesity.

Nearly all said they experienced humiliation and discrimination regarding their weight, either in childhood or as adults.

Twenty participants - more than 25 percent - regularly tried to lose weight quickly by going without eating anything for periods, essentially “starving” themselves.

“Our preliminary results indicate that healthcare providers should do a more thorough assessment of the needs of individual obese patients based on a sympathetic and non-judgmental appreciation of their problems,” Komesaroff said.

The findings of the study were presented Tuesday at The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

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