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Many Don't Believe Their Obesity is Unhealthy: Study
Date:10/17/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

SATURDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Many overweight and obese patients seen in hospital emergency departments don't believe their weight poses a risk to their health, and many say doctors have never told them otherwise, a new study finds.

Researchers asked 450 randomly selected patients who were seen in the emergency department at Shands at the University of Florida two questions: Do you believe your present weight is damaging to your health, and has a doctor or other health professional ever told you that you are overweight?

Of those who reported that their weight was unhealthy, only 19 percent said they'd ever discussed it with a health care provider. And only 30 percent of those who reported being told by their health care provider that their weight was unhealthy agreed with that opinion, according to the study.

Researchers also measured their body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, indicators of body fat.

About 47 percent of obese and overweight men said they believed their weight was a problem, while 53 percent didn't.

Women seemed more attuned to the health issues posed by obesity, said study author Dr. Matthew Ryan, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at University of Florida, Gainesville. About 62 percent of obese or overweight women said their weight was damaging their health.

Among only obese people, or those with a BMI of 30 or above, about 70 percent said their weight wasn't good for their health. Still, that leaves three in 10 obese people who don't see their weight as a health issue -- which it clearly is, Ryan said.

"We see the manifestations of obesity in the emergency department. Obesity is directly linked to other diseases -- hypertension, diabetes, cancers, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, heart disease, strokes, and metabolic syndrome," Ryan said. "We see the acute exacerbations of chronic diseases."

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