A survey of 10 countries reveals nearly one in four

A new study from 10 countries presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) shows that almost a quarter of adolescents living with obesity (ALwO) (24%) do not know they are obese. However, most ALwOs surveyed (85%) worry about the impact of their weight on their future health. Many find it difficult to talk about their weight, even to loved ones, and two-thirds feel it is their sole responsibility to manage their excess weight.

The data comes from the global ACTION Teens survey, supported by Novo Nordisk, which makes drugs for obesity and diabetes, in collaboration with a steering group of international experts and patient advocates, including the president of the EASO, Professor Jason Halford, University of Leeds, UK, and Vicki Mooney, author of the ACTION Teens study and Chair of the Irish Coalition for People with Obesity (ICPO) and Executive Director of the European Coalition for People with Obesity (ECPO). The countries included are Australia, Colombia, Italy, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

A total of 5,275 ALwO* (aged 12 to <18), 5,389 caregivers** (CG) and 2,323 healthcare professionals*** (HCP) were interviewed via an online panel, phone calls and in-person meetings on a wide range of topics, including attitudes towards obesity and its impact, number of weight loss attempts, and motivations/barriers to weight loss. HCPs were most likely (89%) and CGs least likely (67%) to indicate that obesity has a strong impact on a person's overall health and well-being, with ALwO among the two at 72%. Most participants thought obesity had at least as much, if not more, impact than heart disease, cancer or diabetes, among other conditions (see numbers in posters, links below).

The study also showed that most ALwOs feel they have to rely on themselves to change their weight status, with a greater proportion of ALwOs (65%) than caregivers (CG) (37%) and health professionals (27%) who believed that losing weight was the sole responsibility of the ALwO.

While more than half (58%) of ALwOs had tried to lose weight in the past year, three-quarters 75% of ALwOs were somewhat/very likely to have tried to lose weight in the past 6 coming months. Fewer CGs said their ‘linked’ ALwO had tried to lose weight (WL) in the past year (41%) and that their ALwO was somewhat/very likely to try to lose weight in the past year. next 6 months (63%). Healthcare professionals reported that 38% of their ALwO patients had made a serious attempt at WL in the past year.

When it comes to motivation for ALwO to lose weight, the most frequently reported motivations for ALwO were wanting to be fitter/better (40%), not being happy with their weight (37%) and wanting to feel more confident (35%) . CGs also reported the same top three motivators for ALwO to lose weight: wanting to be fitter/better (32%), not being happy with their weight (26%), and wanting to feel more confident (26%). For healthcare professionals, the top three motivations they reported for ALwO to lose weight were that they wanted to have more confidence/self-esteem (69%), improve social life and popularity (69% ), and want to look like their peers their own age (65). %).

The top three barriers to weight loss reported by ALwO were inability to control hunger (38%), lack of motivation (34%) and enjoying eating unhealthy foods (32%). Again, caregivers cited the same top three barriers to weight loss for ALwO: not being able to control hunger (29%), lack of motivation (26%), and enjoyment of eating food. unhealthy (28%). For healthcare professionals, the top three barriers they reported to ALwO weight loss were poor eating habits (93%), lack of exercise (92%), and enjoying eating unhealthy foods ( 91%).

Of these results, the authors state: “The main motivations and barriers for WL were not aligned between ALwO and HCPs. Together, these disconnects can negatively impact the level of support and effectiveness of obesity care that ALwOs receive from CGs and healthcare professionals, respectively. »

The study also highlights the sense of isolation felt by ALwO. One in three felt they couldn’t tell any of their parents about their weight; around one in three could talk to their doctor, a quarter felt they could talk to their boyfriend or girlfriend with a similar proportion (22%) feeling able to bring up the subject with a sibling. Worryingly, one in 10 ALwOs surveyed felt they couldn’t tell anyone about their weight.

For ALwO, the most popular source of information about healthy lifestyles, weight management and weight loss was YouTube (34%), followed by social media (28%), family and friends ( 25%), search engines (25%) and doctors (24%).

The authors say, “Most ALwOs were concerned about the impact of obesity on their health, had recently tried to lose weight, and felt it was their responsibility to do so. ALwO’s attempts at weight loss seemed to be underestimated by health professionals, while CGs tended to underestimate both the impact of obesity on health and well-being, and ALwO’s WL attempts.

Study co-author Vicki Mooney said: “The results show us that teenagers want to lose weight and improve their health, however, one in three teenagers feel unable to talk to their parents about it and many are turning to social media for advice. It’s hard to imagine the pressure put on these teens, especially since two-thirds believe it’s their sole responsibility to lose weight, and many of their parents/guardians struggle to figure out how to lose weight. take care of their child as well as possible.

“The impact of obesity – in children and adults – on individuals, society and our health systems should not be underestimated. There is an urgent need for governments and society to recognize and treat obesity as a disease, so that more adolescents can get the right support to help them live happier and healthier lives,” said the lead author. , Professor Jason Halford, Director of the School of Psychology, University of Leeds and President of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO).

Professor Jason Halford, Director of the School of Psychology at the University of Leeds and President of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO). Please email with maintenance requests. E) [email protected]

Vicki Mooney, author of the ACTION Teens study and Chair of the Irish Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ICPO) and Executive Director of the European Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ECPO). Please email with maintenance requests. E) [email protected]

Tony Kirby at the ECO Media Center. T) +44 7834 385827 E) [email protected]

Notes to editors:

*Eligible ALwOs were 12 to <18 years old and had a current body mass index for age (based on self-reported sex, age, height, and weight) in the upper 5% (≥95th percentile ) for age and sex, according to locally appropriate definitions.

**Eligible caregivers were 25 years of age or older, were the parent or legal guardian of an ALwO who lived in the same household at least 50% of the time, and was involved in their ALwO’s healthcare decisions.

***Eligible healthcare professionals were primary care physicians, pediatricians, or other specialists who had been in clinical practice for at least 2 years, devoted at least 50% of their time to direct patient care, and treated at minus 10 ALwO in a typical month.

The studies were sponsored by Novo Nordisk A/S, a leading global healthcare company and leading researcher and manufacturer of diabetes and obesity drugs, and employer of several of the co-authors.

This press release is based on the late-breaking poster abstracts LBP3.02, LBP3.06 ​​and PO3.46, at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO 2022). The material was reviewed by the congress selection committee. There is no complete document at this stage.

For the press release in Spanish, click here

For the press release in Portuguese, click here


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