THURSDAY, July 15, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Obese people prefer lifestyle change programs to help them shed excess pounds, rather than strategies that focus only on weight loss, a new study finds.
Australian researchers conducted a telephone survey of 142 obese people and asked their opinions about government regulation, public health initiatives, media campaigns, personalized fitness programs, gastric banding surgery, and commercial diet groups.
The findings were published July 14 in the journal BMC Public Health.
"This study provides a number of new insights into how and why obese individuals support and uptake different interventions," Dr. Samantha Thomas, of Monash University in Melbourne, said in a journal news release.
"Importantly, participants supported public health interventions, which they perceived were non-judgmental, non-stigmatizing and empowered individuals to improve their lifestyles rather than focusing on weight loss per se. Participants in this study were less likely to view interventions as effective if they thought they were stigmatizing, or blamed and shamed individuals for being overweight."
Because of the use of scare tactics, commercial dieting programs and media campaigns were rated as particularly bad by the respondents. Many viewed the dieting industry as "greedy," "a scam," and "a rip-off," Thomas said.
"Ironically, many participants still said they would turn to commercial dieting to help lose weight and improve their health. This was because they had very little other support available to them," she noted.
"There is a need for greater attention to be dedicated to interventions that support and empower individuals to improve their lifestyle. At the individual level, personalized care planning and long-term support systems must be developed to assist obese individuals. At the population level, anti-stigma campaigns and regulation should both be explored," Thomas concluded.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about overweight and obesity.