Many doctors are doing little or nothing to help their overweight or obese patients to lose weight but many of them have made new year resolutions for weight loss, according to a new Harris Poll.

Many of the people clearly recognize that they should lose weight and have made a New Year's resolution to do so, including 62 percent of the morbidly obese, 59 percent of the obese and 49 percent of the overweight.

Doctors have never told them to lose weight, according to 19 percent of those who are morbidly obese (with a Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 35.0 or greater), 46 percent of those who are obese (BMI of between 30.0 and 34.99) and 72 percent who are overweight but not obese (BMI of between 25.0 and 29.99). The classification are defined by the World Health Organization.

Trying to manage their weight, many of those who are overweight have participated at some time in their lives in programs. In most cases these were their own personal programs rather than formal programs run by weight loss companies such as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, or programs by their employers or insurance companies.

However it is notable that 19 percent of the morbidly obese, 27 percent of the obese and 31 percent of the overweight have never participated in any weight management program, even one of their own.

Interesting findings in the survey include:

-- Fully 44 percent of all adults say that they made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, including 47 percent of women and 40 percent of men.

-- One in five adults (19 percent) report that their weight has caused them health problems, including 64 percent of the morbidly obese and 23 percent of the obese.

-- A third of all adults (32 percent) have been told by their doctors that they should lose weight. However, as noted above many of those who are overweight (and even 19 percent who are morbidly obese) have never been told that they should do so.

Obesity and the need to greatly reduce it has become a front page story. First Lady Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity her cause. A new study by the Society of Actuaries calculates that the total cost of overweight and obesity in the United States is about $270 billion per year.

And a paper published recently in the medical journal The Lancet claims that one in every ten adults on the planet are now obese. Furthermore, it is predicted that this obesity epidemic will trigger a huge increase in many diseases from diabetes and arthritis to several types of cancer, heart disease and depression.

This survey suggests that we are doing a reasonably good job of warning people of the need to lose weight. However, it also points up the need to get doctors much more involved in weight loss, and to greatly increase participation in weight management programs, the new Harris Poll survey stated in a report.

The Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 17 and 24 among 2,566 adults (aged 18 and over). Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys