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Weight Loss Methods Differ for Rich and Poor People

Update Date: Jul 31, 2014 01:54 PM EDT

According to a new study, how people go about losing weight depends greatly on where they live. Researchers from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom compared weight loss strategies and discovered that people residing in richer areas tend to join clubs whereas people from poorer areas are more likely to try pills.

"This study shows that both obesity and the approaches people use to manage their weight vary according to whether you live in a deprived area or a wealthy area," Dr. Clare Relton who led the study at the University of Sheffield said in the university's news release.

For this study, the researchers recruited around 26,000 people. More than 50 percent of them were overweight and 19.6 percent were obese. The researchers noted that obesity was more common in older adults, with a rate of 22.8 percent in people belonging to the age group of 56 to 75. 16.9 percent of obese people were aged 76 or older. The team also found that people from poorer, more deprived areas were two times more likely to be obese in comparison to people living in wealthier areas.

The researchers interviewed the participants about their weight management techniques. They found that the most common answer at 49 percent was healthy eating. 43.4 percent reported increasing their physical activity levels and 43 percent reported reducing their portion sizes. The researchers then compared the answers of people based on where they lived. They found that people living in poorer areas were more likely to report using weight loss pills and/or meal replacements. People from richer areas were more likely to join weight loss/slimming clubs.

The researchers also found that women were more likely than men to be concerned about their weight. 45 percent of women reported having weight concerns in comparison to just 31 percent of men. However, more men than women were overweight (44 percent versus 31 percent).

"We've known for some time about the social gradient in obesity, but this study also provides evidence that services are differentially taken up by patients according to levels of deprivation," professor Paul Bissell, who was not a part of the study, said.

The university's press release can be accessed here.

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