Background: Obese young people are likely to suffer significant morbidity in adult life. Successful intervention during adolescence may have far-reaching benefits. Evidence is emerging that patient-responsive clinical services may deliver improved outcomes.
Aims: To assess the perceptions of obese young people about weight and weight-management services.
Method: Annonymised, postal questionnaire survey of 116 obese young people (920 years), who had attended a clinic and/or participated in obesity research at our centre. Data was analysed using SPSS.
Results: Forty-four questionnaires were returned (38%). Respondent percentages are reported. 98, 75 and 75%, respectively, agreed or strongly agreed that they were motivated to lose weight, change eating and exercise habits. 91, 68 and 75%, respectively, were likely or very likely to go walking, attend a gym or participate in exercise with similar young people. 51 and 47%, respectively, reported always feeling anxious or sad about their weight. 53 and 32%, respectively, agreed or strongly agreed that their weight affected their sports activities and social life. Perceived causes for obesity were eating habits (22%), lack of exercise (20%), family history (14%) and stress (11%). 71 and 82%, respectively, agreed or strongly agreed that their obesity affects their current health and will affect their adult health.
Motivation to lose weight was correlated with impact on friendships and social activities (r=0.4, 0.3, respectively, P<0.05) and with impact on sports activities, sadness and anxiety about weight (r=0.5, 0.4, 0.6, respectively, P<0.01). There was no correlation between motivation and perceived impact upon health.
Young people would like to receive information from a personal trainer (59%), dietician (54%) doctor (43%), group discussion (40%). The most popular information delivery formats were leaflets (42%) and website (40%).
Conclusions: An adolescent weight-management service incorporating personal mentors, peer support and website may harness motivation more successfully than the conventional medical model.