A poll finds that few realize obesity's links to cancer, arthritis and respiratory problems
By | Mon, January 7, 2013
The other consequences aren't so well known.
"People are often
shocked to hear how far-reaching the effects of obesity are," said
Jennifer Dimitriou, a bariatric dietitian at New York's Montefiore
Only 7% of people surveyed mentioned cancer,
although doctors long have known that fat increases the risk of
developing cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, uterus and certain
other sites. Plus, being overweight can make it harder to spot tumors
early and to treat them.
Then there's the toll on your joints,
especially the knees. About 15% of people knew obesity can contribute to
arthritis, a vicious cycle as the joint pain then makes it harder to
exercise and shed pounds.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and strokes were fairly low on the list. Infertility didn't get a mention.
5% put respiratory problems on the list. Studies show people who are
overweight are at increased risk of sleep apnea and asthma, and that
dropping pounds can help improve their symptoms.
about the myriad ways obesity affects health could help motivate people
to get more active and eat better before full-blown disease strikes,
"Most people want to become healthier. It's the know-how, and understanding what the consequences are," she said.
But only 52% of those surveyed said they've discussed the health risks of being overweight with a doctor.
another complication, the AP-NORC Center survey found that about half
of people think their weight is just about right, and only 12% of
parents think their child is overweight. That's even though government
figures show two-thirds of U.S. adults, and one-third of children and
teens, are either overweight or obese.
If you're surrounded by
overweight people, especially in your family, "then that's all you know,
and that to you is normal," Dimitriou said.
The AP-NORC Center
survey was conducted Nov. 21 through Dec. 14. It involved landline and
cellphone interviews with 1,011 adults nationwide and has a margin of
sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
Associated Press news survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
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