Author(s): Kirk SF, Cockbain AJ, Beazley J
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Abstract SUMMARY: BACKGROUND: Obesity is a major public health issue in Tonga, where prevalence is significantly higher than in Europe and North America. Obesity and its health-related complications are likely to increase as a result of western influences on diet and lifestyle. The aim of this study was to investigate perceptions of body size in Tongan lay people and nurses, and their beliefs about the causes of obesity and its consequences for health. METHODS: A cross-sectional comparative study was conducted. Medical and surgical inpatients and outpatients were recruited from Vaiola Hospital in Tonga, over a 4 week period. Hospital nurses were included for comparison. Overall, 73 lay public and 34 nurses completed questionnaires about their beliefs about obesity, perceptions of their own body size and the health conditions associated with obesity. Subjects were also weighed and measured for calculating body mass index (BMI). RESULTS: Both Tongan lay people and nurses underestimated their body weight and size, although the degree of underestimation was more marked in the lay group. The more accurate perception of body size in nurses may reflect their greater understanding of the health consequences of obesity. CONCLUSIONS: This study has provided some insight into how obesity is viewed in Tonga, in particular differences between lay people and nurses in their own perception of weight, beliefs about obese people and the health consequences of obesity. Future research should aim to explore Tongans views of the health consequences of obesity as well as their perceptions of how serious these consequences are. Â© 2008 Asian Oceanian Association for the Study of Obesity . Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Obes Res Clin Pract
and referenced in Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy