Mixed views and experiences for the overweight or obese

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A new survey of more than 1,000 overweight or obese Australians has revealed very mixed views and experiences.

The survey, commissioned by Novo Nordisk, has been released to coincide with World Obesity Day.

According to the survey, one-third (37 per cent) of those overweight or obese have felt embarrassed when a general practitioner (GP) has raised weight management options. Over half (53 per cent) judge themselves with around the same proportion feeling unsupported by family and friends.

According to obesity researcher and leader Professor Brian Oldfield, “While there is no doubt that personal lifestyle choices can lead to overweight and obesity, we as a community, are largely uninformed about the genetics and biology that dictate how easy it is to gain weight and how hard it is to lose it.

“If we understood better the dramatic, irrepressible physiological changes that occur in our bodies after weight loss that tend to draw us back to our original weight, we would be less inclined to judge those who find this task difficult.”

The survey shows that one in five Australians believe or are unsure that overweight or obese Australias are deserving of help and support, that people have “done it to themselves” (22 per cent), are lazy (23 per cent), or a burden on the health system (15 per cent).

However, one in four are empathetic with 40 per cent agreeing it is a medical issue and not just a matter of poor diet and a lack of exercise.

The survey also found that 59 per cent of respondents who have spoken to their GP have found it helpful and 40 per cent have felt more informed as a result.