Awareness of obesity can lead to weight gain

Being aware that you are overweight or obese can provoke stress eating and lead to additional weight gain, according to a new study. 

Researchers from the University of Liverpool analysed the data of 14,000 adults from both the UK and US. 

Perception of weight

The data came from 3 separate studies looking at weight gain over a variety of time periods ranging from 7 to 22 years. 

The research looked at how participants perceive their own weight, whether this perception is correct, and how much weight they gained or lost over the period. 

It found people who class themselves as 'overweight' engage in more overeating because of stress. 

This leads to them putting on more weight. 

Making healthy decisions is difficult

Dr Eric Robinson, from the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, says knowing you’re overweight can be stressful, which makes healthy choices more difficult. 

He had hoped that someone finding out they were overweight would lead to them to adopting a healthier lifestyle. 

The fact that it doesn’t could prove a problem for public health intervention work, he says. 

Tackling the stigma

He is calling for people to tackle the stigma of obesity in society in a bid to end the cycle of weight gain. 

The fact people with higher BMI have issues with their body image is not surprising, says Dr Robinson, considering how much society focuses on the issue of weight. 

But he believes the way society talks about and portrays being overweight can be changed. 

He says by not portraying being fat as a terrible thing, we can encourage people to make healthy changes to their lifestyle. 


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