Objective: To compare clinical characteristics, attrition, weight loss, and psychological changes of obese young adults and obese adults seeking treatment.
Materials and methods: 1530 individuals seeking treatment in 18 Italian medical centers were evaluated. 382 cases (25%) were classified as young adults (age≤35 years), 1148 (75%) as adults (>35 years). Psychological distress, binge eating, body uneasiness, and attitude towards eating were evaluated, at baseline and after a 12-month weight-loss program, together with BMI changes. Weight-loss expectations and primary motivation for seeking treatment were also recorded.
Results: At baseline, young adults reported significantly higher BMI at age 20, weight loss expectations and body uneasiness scores than adults. A significantly higher percentage of young adults also reported improving appearance as primary reason for seeking treatment. The attrition rate was significantly larger in young adults. Among completers, the mean percent weight loss at 12 months and improvement of psychosocial variables were significantly higher in young adults than in adults. By intention to treat, BMI changes were no longer significant between groups.
Discussion: Obese young adults lose more weight and considerably improve psychological distress, but show a higher attrition rate after 12 months of continuous care in a real world medical setting.