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Knowing You Are Overweight Could Make You Gain More

Knowing You Are Overweight Could Make You Gain More

By: Sarah Massey, M.Sc.

Posted on: in News | Life Science News

Obesity-waist_circumferenceA new study published in the International Journal of Obesity suggest that people who acknowledge that they are overweight may be more prone to weight gain compared to obese individuals who are unaware that their weight may be an issue.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool in the UK studied 14,000 adults in the US and the UK using data collected from three organizations: Midlife in the United States, the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and the UK National Child Development Study. The studies performed in the US followed individuals for 7 to 10 years, while the UK study had a longer study period following participants from age 23 to 45.

The study coordinators used data collected after the children had reached adulthood to determine their awareness of their own weight, as well as any weight gained during the study period. They found a correlation between individuals that considered themselves to be overweight and a propensity to report overindulging in food to cope with stress. This overeating behavior was a predictor for the weight gained by these participants during the course of the study.

“You would hope that making a person aware they are overweight would result in them being more likely to adopt a healthier lifestyle and lose some weight,” notes Dr. Eric Robinson from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society. He adds, “Realizing you are an overweight individual is in itself likely to be quite stressful and make making healthy choices in your lifestyle more difficult. It is a tricky finding for public health intervention work.”

According to Robinson, “What is important is to tackle stigma in society. People with a heavier body weight have body image challenges. That is not surprising given the way we talk about weight as a society.” “But the way we talk about body weight and the way we portray overweight and obesity in society is something we can think about and reconsider. There are ways of encouraging people to make healthy changes to their lifestyle that don’t portray adiposity as a terrible thing.”


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