Weight bias and eating behaviours of persons with overweight and obesity attending a general medical practice in Durban, South Africa
Background: The consequences of obesity for physical health and non-communicable illnesses are well established, but the impact on psychosocial well-being in persons with obesity is much less understood. This study aimed to assess psychosocial constructs such as weight bias affecting the eating behaviours of persons with overweight and obesity attending a general practice in South Africa.
Methods: An observational study was conducted at a private general medical practice situated in a peri-urban area of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A sample of 100 persons with overweight and obesity, and with a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2, were recruited by a convenience sampling method. Frequency tables for BMI, sociodemographic factors, perceptions and eating behaviours were described. Spearman’s rank-order correlation was run to assess the relationship between sociodemographic factors, perceptions, knowledge, attitudes and eating behaviours.
Results: About 90% were below 60 years and 83% were females. The mean BMI of males was 41.7 kg/m2 (SD = 7.38) and of females was 39.9 kg/m2 (SD = 7.91). It was found that weight stigma (are overweight people discriminated against) and the average household income were associated with abnormal eating behaviours such as compulsive eating, obsession with eating and psychological problems. A significant correlation was demonstrated between ‘Are people with overweight discriminated against?’ and abnormal eating behaviours such as compulsive eating (p = 0.049), obsession with eating (p = 0.009) and psychological problems (p = 0.051)
Conclusion: Psychosocial factors such as weight bias affect the eating behaviours of persons with overweight and obesity in South Africa. Research should be done exploring promotion of the psychosocial well-being of patients while trying to manage their obesity.
Full text of this research article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/20786190.2018.1554305