Poll: Americans don't understand health risks of obesity


A recent poll shows that few Americans understand the potential health risks of obesity.

While about 7 in 10 respondents knew that obesity can cause heart disease--the nation's number one killer--and diabetes, that's about as far as it went.

The survey, comprised of telephone interviews conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found that only 7 percent knew the connection between obesity and cancer. Fifteen percent knew that obesity can be linked to arthritis--due to the toll extra weight takes on your joints--and only 5 percent knew that being obese can cause respiratory problems.

"People are often shocked to hear how far-reaching the effects of obesity are," said Jennifer Dimitriou, a bariatric dietitian at New York's Montefiore Medical Center.

Americans also appeared to be in the dark about the link between obesity and conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Is fat the new normal?

In news that should be startling to health professionals, only about half the participants said they've talked about weight-related health risks with their doctors. And that same percentage of people said they think their weight is "just about right"--a troubling response given that about 1 in 3 people in the nation are obese.

If you've grown up in an overweight family, "then that's all you know, and that to you is normal," Dimitriou said.

She notes that raising awareness about the complications being overweight can bring is the best way to help people become more active and health-conscious.

"Most people want to become healthier. It's the know-how, and understanding what the consequences are," she said.

Source: Seattle Times


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