Obesity and weight loss attempts among subjects with a personal history of cancer

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Objectives: Obesity is a risk factor for many cancers and obese cancer patients have a poorer prognosis. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of obesity and attempts to lose weight among cancer survivors. The effects of cancer treatment and time since cancer treatment were also evaluated. Methods: The 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey data were analysed between 2011 and 2013; respondents with (n = 966) and without (n = 6,093) a personal history of cancer were identified. Each respondent's body mass index (BMI) was calculated using self-reported height and weight measurements and categorised as normal (<25 kg/m2), overweight (25-29.9 kg/m2) or obese (≥30 kg/m2). Results: Cancer survivors were older (mean age = 63.4 versus 44.7 years for those with no history of cancer). Overall, there were similar percentages of overweight (37.6% versus 34.1%; relative risk ratio [RRR] = 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.75-1.31) and obese (31.4% versus 27.5%; RRR = 1.04; 95% CI: 0.79-1.39) respondents among both cancer survivors and those without a history of cancer. Among overweight and obese participants, cancer survivors did not demonstrate increased weight loss attempts compared to those without a history of cancer (61.6% versus 66.3%; odds ratio = 0.94; 95% CI: 0.73-1.20). Conclusion: A high prevalence of overweight and obese cancer survivors were identified without any association with cancer treatment. However, cancer survivors did not demonstrate increased attempts to lose weight in comparison to those without a history of cancer despite awareness of their degree of body fatness. Increased efforts to promote the maintenance of a healthy weight among cancer survivors are needed.

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