Misperceptions and Fear of Embarrassment Inhibit Doctor and Patient Discussions About Obesity Treatment Options

New Survey Suggests Increased Communications Could Lead to Better Health Outcomes in the Nashville, Tenn., Area

Oct 11, 2011, 10:23 ET from Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc.

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Significant barriers are keeping adults affected by obesity in Nashville, Tenn., and physicians from talking frankly about bariatric, or weight loss, surgery, according to a new survey sponsored by the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) and Ethicon Endo-Surgery. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that 32 percent of adults in Tennessee are affected by obesity.

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A recent survey of adults with obesity in Nashville found that while 83 percent had discussed weight with their health care provider, only 14 percent of these Nashville residents, who meet the National Institutes of Health guidelines for bariatric surgery, have had their doctor discuss weight loss surgery.

"As a young woman and daycare teacher, I've always had a strong love for children. I was heartbroken when my doctor told me that I would have difficulties getting pregnant and my weight was likely a main factor.  After several failed pregnancy attempts, I knew that I needed to regain control of my weight in order to be a mother," said gastric bypass patient Lauren Demain. "I spoke with my doctor and attended a seminar at the Centennial Center for the Treatment of Obesity to get a better understanding of my weight loss options. Now, three years since I decided to have surgery, I've lost 126 pounds and have a beautiful 18-month old son. I believe my choice has made it possible for me to achieve great strides in my personal and family life, as well as my career."

Health care professionals were also recently surveyed at the national level, and results show that they tend to underestimate patients' willingness to discuss their weight and their receptiveness to discuss treatment options.  Six in 10 physicians surveyed nationally believe most individuals affected by obesity are too embarrassed to discuss their weight with a healthcare professional. However, 73 percent of adults with obesity in Nashville, Tenn., reported they are not too embarrassed, suggesting the conversation would be welcomed.  

The most frequently perceived drawback of bariatric surgery for individuals affected by severe obesity in Nashville, Tenn., is the unfounded fear that it is dangerous. In fact, when performed at a Center of Excellence, bariatric surgery is as safe as or safer than many commonly performed procedures, such as gall bladder removal or hip replacement.

"Bariatric surgery can result in significant long term weight loss for adults affected by severe obesity, where traditional approaches, such as diet and exercise, are often less effective," said Dr. Douglas Olsen, Medical Director, Centennial Center for the Treatment of Obesity and President of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.  "It is important for patients considering weight loss surgery to speak with their doctor about their options and to get a better understanding of the profound effect that surgery can have on eliminating weight-related illnesses, such as infertility, high blood pressure or diabetes.  Taking action will ultimately lead adults to better health outcomes."

Several medical societies have issued statements supporting bariatric surgery for treatment of severe obesity and related diseases, including the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and the International Diabetes Federation.

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery is the most effective therapy available for severe obesity and can result in improvement or complete resolution of obesity-related comorbidities.

Individuals who would like to attend a local seminar and learn more about weight loss surgery should visit www.REALIZE.com.

Survey Methodology

This obesity and bariatric surgery study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Ethicon Endo-Surgery and the Obesity Action Coalition between May 16June 22, 2011 among 167 adults age 18+, affected by obesity within the Nashville designated marketing area (DMA).  

About the Obesity Action Coalition

The OAC is a national nonprofit charity dedicated to helping individuals affected by obesity. The OAC was formed to bring together individuals struggling with weight issues and provide educational resources and advocacy tools. For information on OAC membership, please visit www.obesityaction.org.

About Ethicon Endo-Surgery

Ethicon Endo-Surgery develops and markets advanced medical devices for minimally invasive and open surgical procedures, focusing on procedure-enabling devices for the interventional diagnosis and treatment of conditions in general and bariatric surgery, as well as gastrointestinal health, gynecology and surgical oncology. More information can be found at www.ethiconendosurgery.com.

EES MEDIA CONTACT: David Shaffer/PHONE: 513.446.0887
OAC MEDIA CONTACT: James Zervios/EMAIL: jzervios@obesityaction.org

SOURCE Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc.