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Most People Blind to Obesity

Obese Older Women at Higher Risk for Death, Disease, Disability Before Age 85
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Most people, including doctors and nurses, can't identify obesity, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool found that the majority of people are unable to visually identify whether a person is healthy, overweight or obese.

Participants in the latest study viewed photographs of male models and labeled them as healthy, overweight or obese.

The study revealed that the majority of people were unable to accurately identify healthy-weight, overweight or obese individuals. In fact, people generally believed that overweight men were at a healthy weight.

Researchers said the latest findings suggest that increased exposure to overweight and heavier body weights seems to influence people's perception of healthy body weight.

"We wanted to find out if people can identify a healthy, overweight or obese person just by looking at them," lead researcher Dr. Eric Robinson, a psychologist at the University of Liverpool, said in a news release.

"Primarily we found that people were often very inaccurate and this included trainee doctors and qualified doctors too. Moreover, we found that participants systematically underestimated when a person was overweight or obese," he added.

"Our study of GPs also found a tendency to underestimate weight which has important implications as it means that overweight and obese patients could end up not being offered weight management support or advice," Robinson concluded. "Over the last 30 years we have seen changes to population body weight, so examining how this has affected how we view our own and other people's body sizes is an interesting area of research."

The findings are published in the British Journal of General Practice.

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Nov 12, 2014 07:01 PM EST

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