Self esteem and public distress experienced by of obese patients attending general practice in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas

Catherine Spooner, Nighat Faruqi, Oshana Hermiz, Nigel Stocks, Mark Harris
Publication type: 
Conference presentation
Stream 2 Disadvantaged populations
Primary Health Care Research Conference, Canberra

This presentation is available here.

Context and Aims: Obesity is a significant health priority for Australia. While the burden to the health system is well recognised, the psychological burden for obese people is less considered. Feeling stigmatised can be a barrier to seeking help to manage weight. This is particularly important with increasing levels of obesity, which are associated with increasing health problems.

Methods: As part of a randomised clinical trial, telephone interviews were conducted with 148 patients aged 40–70 years with a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 from 20 general practices in socioeconomically disadvantaged of Sydney and Adelaide. Two-thirds of the sample was female. The Impact of Weight on Quality of Life-Lite (IWQOL-LITE) was administered. Scales relevant to feeling stigmatised were analysed. Differences between patients with Class 1 obesity (BMI 30-<35), and Class 2+ obesity (BMI≥35) were tested.

Findings: While there was no significant difference between Class 1 and Class 2+ patients in weight-related self-esteem (p=0.09), Class 2+ patients reported significantly higher levels of public distress due to their weight (p<0.000). 

Innovative contribution to policy, practice and/or research: Primary health care providers can play an important role in assisting obese patients to deal with feeling distressed about obesity, whether it is in demonstrating non-judgemental attitudes or referring patients for counselling. This is increasingly important as obesity levels increase.