Treatment seeking and barriers to weight loss treatments of different intensity levels among obese and overweight individuals

  • A. C. CiaoEmail author
  • J. D. Latner
  • L. E. Durso
Original Research Paper


Obesity is a major health concern for a large proportion of the population, yet many obese individuals do not receive weight loss treatment. The present study investigated weight-loss treatment seeking and barriers that may prevent treatment seeking. A community sample of overweight or obese participants (N=154; Mean BMI=33.3 kg/m2) completed an Internet survey assessing treatment seeking behaviors across three categories: Treatments Sought, Treatments Desired, and Treatments Planned. Seven treatments of different intensity levels and five barriers to treatment seeking were evaluated. The weight-loss treatment most frequently sought, desired, and planned was treatment “on own.” Higher BMI was correlated with greater number of treatments sought. However, 10% of respondents reported zero treatments sought, and over 25% reported zero treatments desired or planned. Perceived barriers may explain reluctance to seek treatment. The top two barriers for all treatments were lack of money and time. Higher BMI was correlated with more total perceived barriers, and specifically with the barriers “I feel/think I am too heavy” and “I am afraid people will treat me unfairly or badly.” More barriers were reported for more intensive treatments such as treatments from a doctor, another professional, or a commercial program. A majority of participants reported zero barriers to less-intensive treatments. These results suggest that many obese individuals who might benefit from weight loss treatment nevertheless do not plan or desire to seek treatment and perceive multiple barriers to treatments. However, these individuals could be encouraged to consider the less intensive treatments that are seen as more barrier-free.

Key words

Overweight obesity treatment seeking treatment barriers stigma 


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Copyright information

© Editrice Kurtis 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Hawai’i at ManoaHonoluluUSA

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