Complementary and alternative medicine use in patients with obesity: an anthropological approach
Duygu Yazgan Aksoy, Nese Cinar, Fuat Levendoglu, Yasemin Canikli, Bulent Okan Yildiz, Miyase Bayraktar, Aydan Usman & Zafer Ilbars
Introduction: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. For most of CAM, there are key questions that are yet to be answered through well-designed scientific studies. Obesity is one of the chronic health disorders which is difficult to deal and most of the obese patients are unable to lose or keep weight with diet, exercise or drugs.
Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and types of CAM modalities that obese patients use.
Methods: Fifty-five consecutive patients with the diagnosis of obesity were included. Age, sex, weight, body mass index (BMI), waist, fasting plasma glucose (FPG), fasting insulin (FI), lipid, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (fT4), and HOMA were measured. A survey including 30 questions related to occupation, educational level, marital status, accompanying diseases, treatment modalities and any type of CAM use were recorded.
Results: All were women with mean age 35.69±3.73 and BMI 36.98±6.06. Of these patients 69.1% reported to use at least one CAM modality. None of the laboratory parameters predicted CAM use. 64.8% were married and 63% had an education level of high school or less. Most of the patients (44.4%) wanted to be size 40. 58% wanted to lose weight for a better look and 63% reported to believe that thin people are socially more acceptable. All of them tried diet and exercise previously and 33.3% used medicine for weight loss. Of CAM modalities herbal therapy has highest prevalence. 94.7 of CAM users had tried at least one herbal therapy. Cabbage (Brassica oleracea), cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), linseed (Linum üsitassinum) were the most common herbs that patients consumed. Acupuncture was also frequent among patients with obesity (36.4%). 88.6% of CAM users did not inform their physician about CAM use.
Conclusion: The prevalence of CAM use is higher than expected among patients with obesity. Obese people do have realistic targets and their most common concerns about their disease are social rather than medical. Unsuccesful efforts in loosing weight prompted a need for alternative methods. Physicians should be aware of this fact and interrogate patients about CAM use beside methods accepted within conventional medicine.