Survey finds Canadians with severe obesity motivated to lose weight, but
struggle to find access to credible, long-term weight management
EDMONTON, May 17 /CNW/ - The life-long struggle that most Canadians
living with severe obesity (those with a body mass index of 35 or
greater) experience as they try to lose weight, not only impacts their
personal health, emotional well-being and interpersonal relationships,
but it also poses a significant financial burden that can be crippling
for some, a new survey from the Canadian Obesity Network-Réseau
canadien en obésité (CON-RCO) finds.
The survey results, released today, suggest that while 95 per cent of
severely obese Canadians want to lose weight, with over half (56 per
cent) attempting weight loss between two and 20 times, only eight per
cent have succeeded in attaining and maintaining weight loss. Those
who spent money on weight loss methods in the past year, spent close to
$900 on commercial weight loss programs; upwards of $750 on gym
memberships; $600 on prescription diet pills; and close to $400 on
special diets and meal replacement programs.i
Nearly three-quarters (75 per cent) of these same people say they have
been battling their weight for over 11 years and about one-quarter (24
per cent) say they have lost count of how many times they have tried to
"There continues to be a misperception that obesity is simply a
lifestyle issue; that obesity arises out of laziness or poor choices,"
says Dr. Arya M. Sharma, Scientific Director, CON-RCO. "But this survey
clearly shows that patients with severe obesity want to lose weight,
and that most are actively trying and have been for some time. It also
highlights the frustration these individuals feel as they struggle to
drop the pounds with minimal success."
Canadians Finding Motivation Through Family, Friends
In addition to the financial burden, the emotional and personal health
impact of their condition weighs heavily on the minds of Canada's
severely obese population. Nearly half of those surveyed say that
relationships with their friends (48 per cent), family (46 per cent),
children (46 per cent), and spouse or partner (44 per cent) are
negatively impacted by their weight.i Just over half (55 per cent) suffer from low self-esteem, and more
than one-third (37 per cent) withdraw from social situations as a
result of their condition.i
Despite these setbacks, however, Canadians with severe obesity are
motivated to drop the weight. The majority of respondents (84 per cent)
say the main reason they want to lose weight is to improve their
overall health. This is not surprising given that 75 per cent report
having one or more accompanying conditions, including high blood
pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, while nearly half (47 per
cent) say they have two or more conditions. Other motivational factors
to losing weight include: "improving self-esteem" (51 per cent),
"improving mental/emotional health" (38 per cent) and inspiration from
a spouse/partner (28 per cent) and children (21 per cent).i
Gillian Taggart knows first-hand the impact of living with severe
obesity, experiencing both physical and emotional complications due to
"I recall having a real moment of truth one day, when I could no longer
participate in everyday activities like grocery shopping or walking my
children to school. At that moment, I realized how unhealthy I was, I
would not live to see my children grow up," says Ms. Taggart, who has
Through conversations with her physician and her own research, Ms.
Taggart decided to pursue a medically-assisted procedure to help her
lose weight. Since her procedure, she has lost more than 100 pounds
and is now able to travel and participate in a more active lifestyle.
"Many patients come into my clinic, frustrated and depressed with their
repeated failure to sustain weight loss. They feel like they've failed
over and over again despite making their best efforts," says Dr. Chris
Cobourn, Medical Director and Surgeon, SWLC. "It's critical that these
patients understand that there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to
weight loss. Only after understanding all the treatment options,
including surgery and medically-assisted weight loss procedures, can
these patients make an informed decision and start to feel empowered
about living a life that goes beyond their weight."
Sixty-one per cent of Canada's severely obese population report that
weight loss is an uphill battle for them as they have too much to lose
and four in 10 (41 per cent) feel discouraged about trying another
weight loss program for fear of failing again. In addition, 54 per
cent say they feel trapped in an endless cycle of diet and exercise.
"The survey makes clear that Canadians are confused about where to go to
find credible weight management resources," Dr. Sharma concludes.
"Surgery wait times can be very long, the commercial weight loss
industry is not regulated, so many of those products and services can
be a waste of time and money, and employers are just coming around to
the idea that obesity management has to move beyond simply telling
people to eat less and move more. What Canadians with excess weight
need most is clear guidance on how to find the help they need."
Full results on the survey are available on the CON-RCO website, www.obesitynetwork.ca.
About the Survey
The obesity survey was conducted by Leger Marketing in partnership with
the Canadian Obesity Network-Réseau canadien en obésité (CON-RCO)
through an educational grant provided by Allergan Inc. The survey was
completed online from January 22, 2011 to February 1, 2011 using Leger
Marketing's online panel, LegerWeb, with a sample of 524 severely obese Canadians that are 18 years old or
over. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of
error of ± 4.3%.
The Canadian Obesity Network-Réseau canadien en obésité was founded in
2006 through a grant from the Networks of Centres of Excellence
program. It is hosted by the University of Alberta and Alberta Health
Services in Edmonton, AB. With currently over 5000 members, CON-RCO
has trained more than 2,000 health professionals on obesity management,
launched two widely used literature alerting services on obesity,
published an award-winning magazine (CONDUIT), organized Canada's only
recurring scientific conference dedicated to obesity, and much more.
For more information about CON-RCO please visit www.obesitynetwork.ca.
1 Leger Marketing, National Survey on Severe Obesity, 2011.
SOURCE Canadian Obesity Network
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