Researchers from the University of Sheffield once again showed that the too commonly proposed “one-size fits all” paradigm for weight-loss falls short when it comes to providing successful treatment for obesity. The authors of the study observed that obese individuals are currently all treated the same, regardless of how healthy they are, where they live, their behavioral characteristics, and so on. This led them to propose a new approach: dividing the participants into subgroups that would receive tailored treatment according to the group’s characteristics.
The study divided participants who had a BMI of 30 or over into six subgroups: 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.
The researchers found that tailored treatment was far more successful in tackling weight loss than the “one-size-fits-all” approach, which again highlights the importance of recognizing individual differences in obesity.
Dr. Green, one of the lead researchers in the study, 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. We are all different and different health promotion approaches work for different people”.
For those with the poorest health, advise surrounding exercise might not be reasonable, and more modest goals may be needed than in the group of affluent healthy adults. Middle aged adults who were anxious and unhappy benefitted from psychosocial counseling, which would not have made sense to provide to the happy older adults. “Our research showed that those in the groups that we identified are likely to need very different services, and will respond very differently to different health promotion policies,” Dr. Green states.
Read more about how this study suggests tackling obesity here!