Obesity is a complex medical condition involving an excessive amount of body fat. Currently obese individuals are often treated the same regardless of how healthy they are, where they live or their behavioral characteristics. Researchers at University of Sheffield have now suggested that there are six types of obesity and each one should be treated differently.
Dr. Mark Green from the University's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and lead researcher of the study identified the six groups as i.e. young males who were heavy drinkers, middle aged individuals who were unhappy and anxious, older people who despite living with physical health conditions were happy, younger healthy females, older affluent healthy adults and individuals with very poor health.
Researchers highlighted the importance for health policy makers to recognize differences in individuals with obesity and to target or tailor interventions accordingly. This approach may not just be more effective in helping individuals to achieve a healthier lifestyle, but a targeted healthcare approach could also be a more efficient use of NHS services.
Researchers suggested messages about alcohol reduction could help tackle obesity in young adults while for middle aged individuals who were unhappy and anxious an intervention involving increasing exercise mixed with psycho-social counseling could be beneficial and young healthy females may not need any intervention.
Green said, "Policies designed to tackle obesity and encourage healthier lifestyles often target individuals just because they are obese but a focus on just the group as a whole is not very efficient and they were all different and different health promotion approaches work for different people."
The study appears in the Journal of Public Health.