Survey: Docs aren’t telling obese patients to lose weight

Many attempting weight loss on their own

NEW YORK — A new Harris Poll published Tuesday suggested that many doctors are doing little or nothing to help their overweight patients to lose weight.

Using classifications defined by the World Health Organization, 19% of those who are morbidly obese (with a body mass index of 35 or greater), 46% of those who are obese (BMI of between 30 and 34) and 72% who are overweight but not obese (BMI of between 25 and 29), said that their doctors have never told them to lose weight.

Many of these people clearly recognize that they should lose weight and have made a New Year's resolution to do so, including 62% of the morbidly obese, 59% of the obese and 49% of the overweight.

Many of those who are overweight have participated at some time in their lives in programs to try to manage their weight. In most cases, these were their own personal programs, rather than formal programs run by such weight-loss companies as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, or programs by their employers or insurance companies. However it is notable that 19% of the morbidly obese, 27% of the obese and 31% of the overweight have never participated in any weight-management program, even one of their own.

These are some of the results of the Harris Poll of 2,566 adults surveyed online between Jan. 17 and 24, by Harris Interactive.

Some other findings in this survey include:

  • 44% of all adults said that they made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, including 47% of women and 40% of men;

  • One-in-5 adults (19%) reported that their weight has caused them health problems, including 64% of the morbidly obese and 23% of the obese; and

  • Only one-third of all adults (32%) have been told by their doctors that they should lose weight.

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