A new study from ACTION IO (Awareness, Care, and Treatment In Obesity MaNagement – an International Observation) has found that eight in ten people with obesity believe it is their sole responsibility to lose weight, whereas 71% of healthcare professionals believe that people with obesity are not interested in losing weight.

This number completely contrasts the fact that only 7% of obese people said they are not interested, illustrating a clear gap in perception between the two.

Further, 81% had made at least one serious weight-loss effort in the past, while HCPs believed only 35% of their patients had done so.

The statistics, published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, come at the same time as several global and European medical organisations have recognised obesity as a disease, but the way obesity is being treated and the outcome of such treatment is still highly variable.

“Obesity is one of the most complex, chronic health challenges faced by our society today, yet the current approach to obesity management falls short compared to other similar chronic diseases,” commented Professor Ian Caterson, ACTION IO lead investigator and foundation director of the Boden Institute at the University of Sydney.

He continued, “The ACTION IO findings provide important evidence of barriers to good, consistent obesity management. As a healthcare community, we must address these barriers to care and initiate earlier, effective weight management conversations with obese people without fear of offence. People with obesity clearly want to lose weight and we should support them.”

The study consisted of over 14,500 people with obesity and nearly 2,800 HCPs from 11 countries in five continents, aiming to identify perceptions, attitudes, behaviours, and potential barriers to effective obesity care across people with obesity and HCPs.