Obese patients are not sensitive about discussing the issue of weight with health professionals but prefer to use more colloquial terminology, according to researchers in London.
A study led by Nicola Crichton, pro dean of research at London’s South Bank University, investigated the views of obese people in Barking and Dagenham.
According to Department of Health data, the two boroughs included in the study have the highest prevalence of adult obesity in London - 28.7% - and the lowest levels of healthy eating and physical activity.
Between August and September last year, researchers carried out 181 “street intercept” surveys with people in public thoroughfares and carried out 52 in depth interviews.
They found 85% of people had tried to lose weight, of which a quarter had used structured weight loss programmes.
Reasons cited for attempts to lose weight included “getting a job, getting a partner, looking ‘smart’ and looking after children or grandchildren”.
However, many respondents highlighted “structural and financial” issues restricting their attempts to eat healthily or be more physically active.
Some respondents also perceived other people in the area to be “big”. This “social norm” made tackling their obesity less of a priority for them, the authors said.
When talking to the public about their weight, the authors said: “Obesity was not a sensitive issue and easily discussed with researchers.
“Individuals recognised their obesity but did not call themselves ‘obese’, preferring ‘heavy’ or ‘big’.”
The findings were presented on Monday at the Royal College of Nursing’s international research conference in London.