Estimating Health-Related Quality of Life in Obese Individuals
Kevin R. Fontaine
Susan J. Bartlett
Obesity has a significant impact on both morbidity and mortality, as well as an individual's capacity to live a full and active life. Traditionally, outcome measures in obesity treatments have emphasised physiological variables such as amount of bodyweight lost and improvements in various health parameters. Increasingly, measures of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) are used to address the patient's point of view on whether obesity treatment has adequately enhanced functioning and general well-being. Generic measures of HRQOL allow clinicians and researchers to compare the negative social, emotional and physical impact of obesity against other health conditions; specific measures offer insight into how treatment interventions may alter distinct dimensions of HRQOL in overweight individuals. Obesity has been shown to have a deleterious effect on level of functioning, mood, perceived health and self-concept. Further, many obese people also report clinically significant levels of pain which further impair HRQOL. Losing even small amounts of bodyweight appears to ameliorate many of these decrements in HRQOL. However, the long term effects of subsequent bodyweight regain or bodyweight cycling on HRQOL remain unknown. Thus, comprehensive treatment of overweight individuals must also address HRQOL. Given that long term bodyweight maintenance remains elusive for many, additional research on finding ways to enhance and sustain positive changes in HRQOL is clearly needed.
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