Purpose Obesity is a pandemic, chronic and relapsing disease with several treatment options. The aim of this work was to investigate the level of awareness that people with obesity (PwO) have of their own condition and the level of knowledge regarding possible treatments available. To compare and contrast collected data on PwO with data obtained from general practitioners (GPs).
Methods Data for this cross-sectional, non-interventional, descriptive study was collected via an online survey (CAWI methodology). 521 people were interviewed: 320 PwO and 201 GPs. Survey data were summarised in percentages and a 95% Confidence Interval (CI 95%).
Results There is a lack of awareness of obesity as a disease among PwO. Firstly, most PwO (60%, 95% CI: 54%-65%) consider obesity to be an aesthetic problem and secondly a health problem (59%, 95% CI: 54%-65%). Conversely, 80% (95% CI: 74%-85%) of GPs consider obesity as a disease. The survey focus on the knowledge of bariatric and metabolic surgery (BMS) as a possible treatment option showed that only 12% of PwO (95% CI: 8%-16%) declared they had never heard about it, while 88% (95% CI: 84%-91%) declared they knew about it. Similarly, 95% (95% CI: 91%-98%) of GPs claim to know about BMS, but they recommended it only to 5% (95% CI:2%-9%) of their patients. In treating obesity GPs considered BMS less efficient than diet and physical activity (83% (95% CI: 77%-88%) vs 90% (95% CI: 84%-93%)) and to be indicated mainly for patients with comorbidities which cannot be controlled otherwise.
Conclusions Our results indicate that implementing awareness campaigns for patients and GPs is currently as essential as providing structured programmes for obesity treatment. Moreover, it is still necessary to sensitize GPs on BMS which should be considered a standard obesity treatment option in selected cases.
Level of evidence: Level V, cross-sectional, descriptive study.