Americans list obesity as a primary health threat, yet most do not seek medical advice for treatment, according to a survey from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and NORC at the University of Chicago.
The ASMBS/NORC Obesity Poll surveyed 1,509 U.S. residents and found that 81% consider obesity to be the top health threat facing the nation. Cancer also led this list with 81% of respondents describing it as a serious health threat, followed by diabetes (72%), heart disease (72%), mental illness (65%) and HIV/AIDS (46%).
According to the poll, 94% of Americans agree that obesity increases the risk for early death, even if no other health problems are present. Yet despite recognizing obesity as a health risk, most reported that diet and exercise alone were the most effective methods for long-term weight loss. One-third of survey respondents with obesity have never spoken to a physician about their weight. Additionally, only 12% of those for whom weight-loss surgery may be an option have had a physician suggest this treatment.
“This survey reveals that Americans understand the risks of obesity better than ever, but hold major misperceptions about the causes of the disease, the effectiveness of the different treatments and the importance of involving the medical community in their care,” Raul J. Rosenthal, MD, president of ASMBS and chairman of the department of general surgery at Cleveland Clinic Florida, said in a press release. “I think obesity may be the only life-threatening disease where more than a third of the patients do not consult a doctor for treatment, and where the vast majority do not explore other treatment options that may yield better long-term success rates.”