Obese people fall into six distinct categories, study suggests

Scientists call for bespoke treatment rather than a 'one size fits all' approach to tackling the epidemic

An article in the Telegraph (17 April 2015) reports on a study carried out by the University of Sheffield which suggests that obese people fall into six distinct categories, leading scientists to call for bespoke treatment rather than a “one size fits all” approach to tackling the epidemic which costs the NHS £6 billion a year. They used a two-step cluster analysis to identify groups of individuals who shared common characteristics, and six groups emerged.

Scientists from the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research analysed data from the Yorkshire Health Study of 4,144 obese individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above. Researchers identified the groups as heavy drinking males, young healthy females, the affluent and healthy elderly, the physically sick but happy elderly, the unhappy and anxious middle-aged, and those with the poorest health.

The study, published in the Journal of Public Health, suggests that clinicians should not target all obese people in exactly the same way, but rather treat them according to which "type" they belong to.

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