The thought that counts

It turns out that thinking you're fat is far worse than being fat.

A recent study of German teens found that although quality of life was lower for "overweight" teens, it had more to do with their self-evaluation than any medical factors. More so, the quality of life also went down for "normal weight" teens who thought they were fat.

Says a summary of the research:

If adolescents think they are "far too fat," they forfeit a lot of their quality of life, whatever their actual weight. This is particularly marked with girls. On the other hand, if they consider their weight "just right," their quality of life is the same as if they were of normal weight, even if this is not true. The proportion of adolescents who think they are overweight has been increasing more rapidly in recent years than the proportion of those who really are overweight.
(emphasis mine)

So maybe the plethora of health risks we're hearing about that accompany childhood obesity are linked to the pressure these kids feel to be thin. And maybe if we'd stop harping about it so freaking much, a lot of these health risks would just...go away.

Of course, this article is accompanied by ads promoting weight loss drugs. Ah, the ironies.

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mary said...

How do we stop the harping?

I really do believe that there's a connection to all the pressure. Like you said Carrie, the ads are every where and even the news can't shut up long enough to share a kind laugh with us each night. Nope, not when they can start us on a new get fit program. BAH!

IrishUp said...

Carrie, I recently came across an interesting review article that evaluates the Obesity - adverse health literature from this standpoint. It's an open access article, and if anyone is interested:

The author makes a compelling case that these psychological factors are a large part of the observed populational correlations btwn high BMI and adverse health effects, that are not adequately addressed in the medical literature or indeed, in the design of these investigational studies.

Juliet said...

Good one, Carrie. I've been trying to beat this into the brains of my fellow grad students in my child development class. They are all caught up in the "fat is unhealthy" and "thin is healthy" mentality.

It's just not that black and white. With self-esteem, body acceptance, eating disorders and weight there is so much grey in so many shades.

We should be teaching children to love their bodies as they are. The rest will follow.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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