According to the international study on adolescent obesity, YouTube, social networks and apps are more popular than doctors as sources of information among young people.
The findings of a new version of the international study Action Teens, by Novo Nordisk, presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO), suggest that for adolescents living with obesity, YouTube, social networks, apps and the online world are the recurring channels when it comes to finding out about this disease, surpassing doctors as an official source.
The objective of the study is to identify behaviors, perceptions, and barriers to effective obesity care, from the point of view of adolescents (between 12 and 17 years of age who live with this disease), their parents, caregivers, guardians, and health professionals. health.
For the doctor, Ana Ledesma, a clinical nutritionist from the Coquimbo Region, this is explained because “the information that can be found on the networks is presented in a more playful way, with images, sounds and shorter information.”
Among the most important findings are that one in four adolescents (24%) do not realize that they are living with obesity and the most worrying thing is that one in three of their parents, caregivers or guardians does not know that their child has this disease and almost half (49%) consider their health to be very good or excellent.
Even more than a third (37%) of caregivers believe that the weight of their children is their sole responsibility.
“It is worrisome that adolescents do not realize that they are living with obesity. Today, many of the adolescents who live with obesity are the children of parents who also live with overweight or obesity, therefore, there is an environment at the genetic level, but they also have a pro-obesity environment,” said Javier Vega, nutritionist from the University Catholic.
In addition to the fact that young people and caregivers do not recognize the disease in adolescents, it is added that doctors are the last source that young people who live with obesity turn to, since for them the information is found on the Internet.
And this figure is not so surprising, considering that the same study shows that 1 in 5 (18%) doctors do not feel comfortable talking about weight, which could be related to the fact that 87% of health professionals have not received training advance on how to treat obesity after studying medicine.
Regarding the undergraduate training of physicians, and according to research published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, most physicians do not receive adequate training to address nutrition issues with their patients.
Dr. Magdalena Farias, nutritionist and specialist in clinical nutrition, believes that education is a fundamental factor, since it is important that health professionals understand that this is a chronic disease, which has to be diagnosed.
“I think it is super important to work on education in the general population but, above all, with health professionals, educating them on how to approach obesity. Patients must be treated with empathy, educated, made to understand that there is a biological component behind this disease”, she highlighted.
The growing impact of adolescent obesity worldwide shows that 175 million children and adolescents suffer from obesity in the world and that four out of five children who live with obesity will become obese adults.
Along the same lines, a child living with obesity would have three times the risk of mortality in early adulthood.
For Dr. Manuel Moreno, a doctor specializing in nutrition and diabetes, in terms of public policies, adequate treatment by multidisciplinary teams should be favored in children who are already overweight or obese or who are in a risk environment, those who not only evaluate the risks associated with obesity, but also the risk of mental health.
“I believe that access to these multidisciplinary programs, both public and private, would allow adolescents to have less risk of developing obesity and all its associated consequences when they become adults,” he said.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that this study led by Novo Nordisk is applied in Australia, Colombia, Italy, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and has a sample of 5,275 adolescents and 5,389 caregivers.
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