Health-Related Quality of Life Varies among Obese Subgroups


Obesity and Quality of Life Consulting, 1004 Norwood Avenue, Durham, NC 27707. E-mail:


Objective: To compare the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of overweight/obese individuals from different subgroups that vary in treatment-seeking status and treatment intensity.

Research Methods and Procedures: Participants were from five distinct groups, representing a continuum of treatment intensity: overweight/obese community volunteers who were not enrolled in weight-loss treatment, clinical trial participants, outpatient weight-loss program/studies participants, participants in a day treatment program for obesity, and gastric bypass patients. The sample was large (n = 3353), geographically diverse (subjects were from 13 different states in the U.S.), and demographically diverse (age range, 18 to 90 years; at least 14% African Americans; 32.6% men). An obesity-specific instrument, the Impact of Weight on Quality of Life-Lite questionnaire, was used to assess health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

Results: Results indicated that obesity-specific HRQOL was significantly more impaired in the treatment-seeking groups than in the nontreatment-seeking group across comparable gender and body mass index (BMI) categories. Within the treatment groups, HRQOL varied by treatment intensity. Gastric bypass patients had the most impairment, followed by day treatment patients, followed by participants in outpatient weight-loss programs/studies, followed by participants in clinical trials. Obesity-specific HRQOL was more impaired for those with higher BMIs, whites, and women in certain treatment groups.

Discussion: There are differences in HRQOL across subgroups of overweight/obese individuals that vary by treatment-seeking status, treatment modality, gender, race, and BMI.