There are six major types of obesity, according to a study conducted in the U.S. and the UK.
To battle the disease more effectively, the researchers suggest, the medical community could recognize these different sub-categories and treat them separately.
Taking into account the various demographic, health and behavioral factors that may play a role in obesity, researchers at the University of Sheffield and at the Harvard School of Public Health have defined six different types of obesity.
The researchers worked with data on over 4,144 obese adults from the Yorkshire Health Study cohort. All of them had a BMI over 30 (average BMI in the group was 34), and the average age was 56. Fifty-eight percent of these participants were female.
After collecting details on the participants' lifestyle, diet, physical activity and previous efforts to lose weight, the researchers developed a questionnaire that was distributed to the participants through their doctors.
Based on the responses to the questionnaire, the research team was able to identify patterns in clinical characteristics and establish six types of obese patients:
- Young healthy females, who have not yet developed complications from obesity such as Type 2 diabetes.
- Heavy-drinking males, who consume at least 12 drinks per week.
- Unhappy and anxious middle-aged individuals, predominately women with mental health issues.
- Affluent and healthy elderly individuals, who are in fairly good health overall but have higher alcohol intake and high blood pressure.
- Physically sick but happy elderly individuals, who exhibit good mental health but suffer from chronic conditions such as arthritis.
- Poorest health individuals, who are economically deprived and suffer from a greater number of chronic conditions than the other groups.
In their study, published in the Journal of Public Health
on April 18, the researchers suggest that recognizing these different types may be essential to fighting obesity.
Between excessive alcohol intake, erratic eating behaviors and lack of physical activity, factors leading to the condition can vary between the different groups, and the idea is that taking this into account could help doctors to develop more targeted interventions.