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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Recognising Barriers Key to Obesity Management?

Most people fail to keep off any weight they lose.

This may in part be attributable to the substantial barriers that undermine long-term obesity management strategies.

In a paper I wrote with my colleagues Marina Mauro, Valerie Taylor and Sean Whartan just out in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, we highlight the importance of recognizing and addressing these barriers before embarking on obesity treatments.

Common barriers include lack of recognition of obesity as a chronic condition, low socioeconomic status, time constraints, intimate saboteurs, and a wide range of comorbidities including mental health, sleep, chronic pain, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive and endocrine disorders.

Furthermore, medications used to treat some of these disorders may further undermine weight-loss efforts and promote weight regain.

Unfortunately, lack of specific obesity training of health professionals, attitudes and beliefs as well as coverage and availability of obesity treatments can likewise pose important barriers.

Health professionals need to take care to identify, acknowledge and, if possible, address these barriers in order to increase patient success as well as compliance and adherence with treatments.

Failure to do so may further promote the sense of failure, low self esteem and low self efficacy already common among individuals struggling with excess weight.

I have little doubt that addressing treatment barriers can save resources and increase the prospect of long-term success.

Identifying and discussing barriers with patients has to be a routine part of obesity care.

Edmonton, Alberta

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