One in four Britons are obese but most of them are in denialWeight problems 'normalised' due to rapid rise in obesity, study finds
Overweight Britons are living in denial about the size of their waistlines.
A quarter of the population is officially obese yet only 6 per cent believe their weight is bad enough to be classified in that category, according to a survey published today.
The study suggests that the rapid rise in obesity in recent years has caused weight problems to be ‘normalised’ – with as many as 10million people unaware their weight is putting their health at risk.
In denial: A quarter of the UK population is obese, yet only a fraction believe they should be classed in that category
Slimming World’s annual survey revealed that three quarters of those with a severe weight problem see ‘obesity’ as something that happens to other people.
But there is no under-estimating the emotional damage caused by piling on the pounds.
More than one in three people who are very overweight feel that weight is ‘the most important issue in life’ and up to half feel ‘embarrassed’, ‘ashamed’, ‘disgusted’ and ‘trapped’ by it.
The survey found that 70 per cent of
people in the UK want to lose weight, rising to 95 per cent for people
with a Body Mass Index in the obese category.
Dr Jacquie Lavin, head of nutrition and research at Slimming World, described the findings as ‘worrying’.
Pugh's take on the obesity study
She said: ‘Many people, including many health professionals, believe that managing weight is just about energy balance, and that people simply need to “eat less and exercise more”.
‘However, that approach can never work while so many people deny how severely their weight could be affecting their health by increasing their risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke – or while they struggle with the emotional burden of being overweight, which can affect their confidence in their ability to make lifestyle changes.
‘As individuals, we need support to tackle the deep-rooted psychological issues around how we feel about our weight before we can begin to make those changes.’
Dr Lavin added: ‘Studies of behaviour change show that helping people to lose weight is not just about giving them information and lecturing them on what they should and shouldn’t eat.
‘It’s about encouraging and empowering people to want to make the change for themselves.
‘When it comes to weight-management, it’s as much about tackling deep-seated emotional and psychological issues as it is about providing practical help around diet and activity.
‘The right support will recognise the importance of tackling those feelings of low self-esteem, guilt and failure, helping people to understand why they are struggling, building confidence in and rewarding their ability to make changes and giving them realistic practical tools so that once they lose weight, they can keep it off for life.’
The survey of 2,065 people was conducted by YouGov in November.
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