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August 7, 2023

The OBSERVE Study: Healthcare Provider Perceptions of Obesity and Obesity Treatment – Quantitative Results

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While there are many groups that have a stake in how obesity care is approached, healthcare providers (HCPs) and clinical leaders in obesity medicine, like yourselves, have one of the most important and influential roles. Not only do you directly help people living with obesity manage the disease, but you also serve as educators about the disease, counselors on therapies, and authorities that can help reverse deep-seated misunderstanding and stigma.

With millions of individuals affected by obesity and the emergence of additional anti-obesity medication (AOMs), now is a unique time to be in the field. We know the obesity care landscape has changed rapidly since the American Medical Association recognized obesity as a disease ten years ago in 2013, but have attitudes and beliefs about obesity and AOMs also evolved?

To answer this question, Lilly launched the OBSERVE study to understand the perceptions, barriers, and opportunities for AOMs and surveyed three key stakeholder groups: patients, HCPs, and employers. Lilly released qualitative results in 2021 and 2022. To learn more about the study and insights from the qualitative results, visit The OBSERVE Study: Insights into Anti-obesity Medication Perceptions and Barriers.

Additional quantitative portions of the OBSERVE study examining other stakeholders will be released later this year. The HCP-specific findings, which were presented at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 32nd Annual Meeting in 2023, are outlined below. i

HCP Perceptions of Obesity & Obesity Treatment: Quantitative OBSERVE Findings. i

Methodology & Demographicsi

To conduct the OBSERVE survey, we recruited a diverse sample of U.S. HCPs (N=504) to participate in a cross-sectional, 45-minute web-based survey. In order to participate, the HCPs were required to:

  • Have practiced for three or more years,
  • Spend 60% or more of their time in direct outpatient care,
  • See or treat a minimum of 100 patients a month, and
  • Have at least 10% of patients with obesity

Participating HCPs had varying medical backgrounds, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, dietitians, and physicians/surgeons who medically specialize in family medicine, internal medicine, OB/GYN, endocrinology, obesity/bariatric medicine, or psychiatry among others. The cohort also included both HCPs with (67%) and without or limited (32%) experience prescribing AOMs to garner a holistic perspective.


There are three main findings from the latest phase of the OBSERVE study i:

Despite an HCP-reported understanding of the health implications of obesity and of obesity as a disease, HCPs perceptions to the role and benefit of AOMs do not align with advances in the field.

When surveyed about beliefs on obesity, 88% of healthcare professionals agreed that obesity is a disease, with only 2% of those surveyed disagreeing or strongly disagreeing. The majority (58%) of HCPs said that obesity is a primary result of lifestyle choices, but approximately two-thirds (66%) of HCPs agreed obesity requires treatment.

Additionally, nearly all HCPs believed that obesity increases the chances of developing future health problems (94%) and that obesity has a significant impact on mental health and/or emotional well-being (93%). However, more than half (67%) of HCPs agreed that patients with obesity should be required to demonstrate motivation to make lifestyle changes before medical treatment is offered.

HCPs across a range of disciplines reported a need for more effective AOMs and believe they should be prescribed in combination with lifestyle changes.

The majority of HCPs surveyed (75%) agreed there is a need for more effective, FDA-approved AOM options than those currently available. Almost three-fourths (73%) of HCPs surveyed viewed AOMs as a great way to kick-start weight loss efforts. Additionally, 72% of HCPs surveyed also agreed AOMs are an appropriate treatment for obesity when used in conjunction with diet and exercise.

HCPs also indicated access challenges with AOMs.

71% of HCPs agreed that insurance does not adequately cover the cost of AOMs. Indicating a need for more broad coverage of these medications.

What this means

Based on these findings, we can conclude that as new AOMs become available, effective communication of data on patient experience, long-term safety, weight effects, and treatment effects on obesity-related conditions will assist HCPs in guiding appropriate and effective AOM use.

[i] Kahan S. Kumar RB, Ahmad NN, et al. Healthcare providers’ perceptions of anti-obesity medications: results from the OBSERVE study. Poster presented at: AACE Annual Meeting 2023; May 4-6, 2023; Seattle, WA

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Eli Lilly & Company

Lilly is a global healthcare leader that unites caring with discovery to create medicines that make life better for people around the world. We were founded more than a century ago by a man committed to creating high-quality medicines that meet real needs, and today we remain true to that mission in all our work. Across the globe, Lilly employees work to discover and bring life-changing medicines to those who need them, improve the understanding and management of disease, and give back to communities through philanthropy and volunteerism.