ACTION qualitative research indicates differences in perceptions about obesity among participants1

ACTION qualitative research indicates differences in perceptions about obesity among participants1

People with obesity and health care professionals diverge on cause of obesity and impact on health.

The qualitative research findings from ACTION highlight several key differences in perceptions between people with obesity and health care professionals, particularly around the understanding of obesity as a disease and its impact on the body, as well as barriers to weight loss. For further details, see the poster presented at ObesityWeek 2015.1

The qualitative findings below represent the first phase of the ACTION study, and will be followed by robust quantitative data upon publication.


Obesity and Health1

People with obesity and health care professionals considered obesity a combination of disease and lifestyle, but their emphasis differed.

A large proportion (44%) of people with obesity reported it’s possible to be healthy despite obesity, as long as there are no comorbidities present; only 4% of clinicians shared this perspective.

75% of people with obesity perceived themselves as ‘healthy’ by providing a personal health rating of Good, Very Good, or Excellent, although nearly three-quarters of the sample had obesity-related comorbidities.

Barriers To Weight Loss1

People with obesity and clinicians agreed (77% vs. 75%, respectively) that motivation is a key barrier to weight loss, with people with obesity emphasizing lack of willpower specifically (67%). Clinicians identified lack of readiness to make changes as an important factor (29%).

Nearly all people with obesity (88%) talked about individual eating habits (food preferences or addictions) as a barrier and clinicians endorsed this less frequently (38%).

People with obesity (79%) emphasized social relationships with people who resisted their weight loss efforts more frequently than did clinicians (38%). In some cases, people with obesity enjoyed socializing with food and had difficulty making changes within these relationships.

Clinicians (67%) emphasized limited patient understanding of their condition as a strong barrier while people with obesity endorsed this less frequently (37%).

Qualitative Research Poster

This poster, presented at ObesityWeek 2015, provides an overview of ACTION study qualitative research results.

  1. Kaplan L, Golden A, O’Neil P, et al. Divergence of patient and clinician perceptions of obesity and weight management. Poster presented at: ObesityWeek 2015; November 2-6, 2015; Los Angeles, CA.