Many overweight and obese patients seen in hospital emergency departments don't believe their weight poses a risk to their health. A new study also finds that many say their doctors have never told them otherwise.

Researchers asked 450 randomly selected patients two questions: Do you believe your present weight is damaging to your health and has a doctor of other health professional ever told you that you are overweight? Of those who reported their weight as unhealthy, only 19 percent said they'd ever discussed it with their doctor. Only 30 percent who had been told by their doctor that their weight was unhealthy agreed with the opinion.

"We've had this acceptance that because so many people are overweight and that's become the norm that that's ok," said Dr. Felicia Stoler of the New Jersey Dietetic Association. "But that's not necessarily healthy."

The study also found that about 47 percent of obese and overweight men said they believed their weight was a problem, while 53 percent did not. Meanwhile, women seemed to be more aware of the health issues caused by obesity. About 62 percent of obese women said their weight was damaging their health.

"With women, a lot of times it starts off as an image or vanity issue, but they do recognize that it's about health," said Stoler. "Women tend to go to the doctor more often than men do too."

Despite the health risks, only 36 percent of overweight or obese men and 50 percent of women in the same position reported their doctors had ever discussed their weight with them. "Sometimes, they're just not getting into it because they don't have the resources to help treat them and unfortunately, especially in the state of New Jersey, there isn't coverage for medical nutrition therapy to help people lose weight," said Stoler.