The next epidemic? People living with obesity nearly twice as likely to have bad mental health

People living with obesity are nearly twice as likely as those with a healthy weight to report that their mental health is bad, according to a new study conducted by Ipsos MORI for Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies .

The author(s)

  • Federica Curcurú Omnibus
  • Flora Meisl Omnibus
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The research polled over 2,000 UK adults and found that a quarter (25%) of people who are either obese or morbidly obese said that their mental health was bad, compared to 15% of people with a weight based on a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI).

People who are underweight or obese are more likely to report that their mental health is bad - Ipsos MORI

The prevalence of bad mental health among people living with obesity has also been made worse by the Coronavirus pandemic, compared to those with a healthy weight or those overweight. Nearly half (46%) of people living with obesity reported that their mental health was negatively affected by COVID-19, with over a quarter (26%) saying it is still worse than it was before. This is compared to 20% people with a healthy weight.

Moreover, six in ten British people living with obesity or morbid obesity (60%) say they have felt low self esteem in the past fortnight (versus 51% of those with a healthy weight), with four in ten (42%) suffering from the feeling several times a week or more. Similarly, over half (57%) of those living with obesity feel negative emotions when they look in the mirror compared with a third of those with a healthy weight (33%). Across people of all weights women were found to be more likely than men to encounter such feelings of selfconciousness, embarrassment and shame.

These findings can – in part – be explained by the fact that a significant majority of people believe that the media (61%) and general public (67%) make negative judgements about people living with obesity.

The majority of the people in the UK agree that both the general public and the media make negative judgements about people who are living with obesity - Ipsos MORI

The Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies comprise the surgery, orthopaedics, vision and interventional solutions businesses within Johnson & Johnson’s Medical Devices segment.

Technical Note

  • The research was carried out by Ipsos MORI.
  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,352 adults aged 16+ in the United Kingdom using its online i:omnibus between 24th and 28th September 2021. The sample obtained is representative of the population with quotas on: Age, Gender, Region, Working Status.
  • The data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for age, working status and social grade within gender, and for government office region and education, to reflect the adult population of the United Kingdom.

The author(s)

  • Federica Curcurú Omnibus
  • Flora Meisl Omnibus

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