CHAPTER 5. HEALTH MANAGEMENT
Effective weight management for those at risk of developing obesity involves a range of long-term strategies, including prevention, weight maintenance, management of co-morbidities and weight loss (WHO 2003).
A clinical response is an important element of strategies to manage overweight or obesity. Overweight or obese adults (39%) were slightly more likely to report having used selected health services in the two weeks prior to interview than underweight or normal weight adults (38%).
For example, in 2004-05, just under one-quarter (24%) of all adults had visited a general practitioner (GP) or specialist in the last two weeks for their own health. Of overweight or obese adults, 27% had visited a GP or specialist. Just under one third (32%) of overweight or obese women had visited a GP or specialist, compared to less than one quarter (23%) of overweight or obese men.
Consultations with doctors were more likely with age. For example, 18% of the 18-24 years age group had visited a GP or specialist, compared with 37% of people aged 55 years and over. Further, older adults (55 years and over) who were overweight or obese were more likely to have had a consultation with a GP or specialist (38%) than older adults who were underweight or normal weight (35%).
Of men reporting a discharge from hospital in the two weeks prior to interview, 69% were overweight or obese. Other hospital services were also well utilised by overweight or obese men, including day clinic visits (75%), visits to casualty or emergency (64%) and visits as outpatients (66%). There was little difference between people in different BMI categories in the usage of other health services.
Of all women using health related services, overweight or obese women were more likely to visit day clinics (51%) and consult a GP or specialist (50%). Overall, overweight or obese women (48%) were less likely to use a health related service than underweight or normal weight women (52%).
Overall, 15% of adults reported having visited other health professionals. This proportion was similar for overweight or obese adults and underweight or normal weight adults. Of those who consulted other health professionals, chemists (27%), physiotherapists or hydrotherapist (20%) and chiropractors (18%) were the most commonly consulted. These proportions were similar for those overweight or obese and those underweight or normal weight.
DAYS AWAY FROM WORK
In the 2004-05 NHS, the average length of absence for employees who had been absent due to their own illness or injury was 3.0 days. People who were underweight or normal weight had lower than average absenteeism rates (2.3 days and 2.8 days respectively). Conversely, people who were overweight or obese had higher than average rates (both 3.2 days).
Overweight or obese adults were also more likely to have time away from other activities compared to persons who had an underweight or normal BMI. In 2004-05, 10% of overweight or obese men, and 15% of overweight or obese women had other days of reduced activity. This compared with 9% of underweight or normal weight men, and 12% of underweight or normal weight women.
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
Approximately half (51%, or 7.1 million) of adults were covered by private health insurance. The proportions were similar across all four BMI categories.