Obesity: One in Two Patients does not go to the Doctor Out of Shame

A study reveals that 47% of people with weight problems do not seek help from a specialist.

A new study published in the journal BMJ Open has put a magnifying glass on this issue, according to which only 47% of individuals with obesity go to a doctor.T

One in two obese patients is ashamed
The researchers interviewed around 1,500 obesity sufferers and 300 British doctors. In the UK, nearly 75% of the population lives in obesity or overweight conditions. A percentage that for Italy, according to data from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità referring to 2019, stands at 46.9%.

In addition to discovering that more than 50% of obese subjects have never turned to a doctor, the researchers found that 85% of participants – instead of asking for help from an expert – tend to feel guilty and withdraw. On the other hand, only 33% of the doctors interviewed believed that the main responsibility for weight loss lay in the hands of the patients. This means that to make progress it is essential to rely on an expert: doing it alone can be complex.

The social component of obesity
What restrains obese people, the researchers explain, is often a feeling of shame that acts as a mental block. The results of the survey showed that many people struggle with their weight for years and years, and that rather than talking to a doctor they blame themselves and remain inside a vortex from which it is difficult to get out on their own. This study therefore placed an emphasis on the social aspects of obesity, a medical condition characterized by complications which – according to a 2017 estimate by the Italian Obesity Society and the Italian Society of Obesity Surgery – would cause one death every ten minutes.

It is important to underline that doctors have a key role in the pathways of obese people, but sometimes they tend to take the wrong approach: “Doctors, in some cases, mistakenly believe that people with obesity are not interested or motivated in losing weight, and therefore they don’t even introduce speech, ”explains Dr Carly A Hughes (Norwich Medical School), lead author of the study.