Older, poorer men are most at risk of becoming obese according to a new study carried out across South Yorkshire by The University of Sheffield - and poorer people are more likely to use diet pills rather than exercising.
Researchers surveyed 26,000 people from 43 GP practices across South Yorkshire, and found those living in deprived areas were more than twice as likely to be obese than wealthier neighbours.
The survey found those living in the most deprived areas were the least likely people to exercise, eat healthily or reduce portion sizes - but the most likely to use weight loss medications such as pills, herbal remedies and appetite suppressants.
Slimming clubs were more popular in affluent areas, where people were also more likely to try healthy eating, exercise and cutting portion sizes.
Dr Clare Relton, from the School of Health and Related Research, who led the study, said: “This shows both obesity, and the approaches people use to manage weight, vary according to whether you live in a deprived area or a wealthy area.”
More than half of the people surveyed were overweight and nearly a fifth were obese.
Obesity was most common among older people, affecting over a fifth of people aged 56 to 75 and nearly 17 per cent of people aged 76 and over.
The study also found women were more likely to be concerned about their weight than men - despite the fact more men were overweight than women.
Some 44 per cent of men surveyed were overweight compared to 31 per cent of women, but only 31 per cent of men were concerned about their weight compared to 45 per cent of women.
Prof Paul Bissell, who was involved in the study, said: “We’ve known for some time about the social gradient in obesity, but this also provides evidence that services are differentially taken up by patients according to levels of deprivation.”
The study took place from 2010 to 2012.