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February 10, 2010

Obese feel powerless when it comes to losing weight

The more severely obese a person is, the less likely they feel they can reduce their weight, concludes a new study.
Obese feel powerless when it comes to losing weightThe Monash University-led study is the first of its kind in Australia. To reach the conclusion, 141 obese Australians were extensively interviewed to try to gauge how they perceived their weight and ability to manage it. Co-author & Head of Monash University's Consumer Health Research Group (CHaRGe) Dr Samantha Thomas said those in the severely obese category with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 40, blamed themselves for their weight and often described themselves as at war with their bodies.

"Severely obese individuals felt an urgent & desperate need to change their health behaviours, but felt completely powerless to do so. Most felt worried & scared about the potential health consequences of their weight. Most felt blamed and ashamed by public health & education campaigns about obesity, which did little to actually help them address their weight," Dr Thomas said.

Dr. Thomas said in contrast, people whose weight fell within the mild to moderately obese range understood they were significantly overweight but did not believe they needed to lose weight to improve their health and wellbeing. "Those individuals, with a BMI between 30 & 40, believed they could lose weight if they needed to, but did not feel this was an urgent health priority as most felt physically healthy," Dr Thomas said. "Most of the study participants in this category deliberately sought to distance themselves from public health messages about obesity & the word obesity because of the social stigma attached to the condition. They also stigmatised those who were fatter than themselves."

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