Remember those teen years…when you were so hard on yourself, so competitive, and never thought you were thin enough? Ok…I’m speaking to all you women out there! Many of us may have thought we weren’t thin by playing the comparison game with others who were still as skinny as beanpoles, because they had not, in fact, gone through puberty. But really, we never were fat! So, when every magazine cover and advertisement screams unreasonably thin.. how is it that we continue to have such an obesity epidemic? Could the fear of being fat, be contributing to this issue?
Study Results on Fear of Being Fat
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science & Technology conducted a study and found that teenagers in a normal weight range who perceive themselves to be fat are very likely to grow up and become overweight. The study surveyed over 1000 teens who were not overweight and were in a healthy weight range. Once those teens reached the age range of 24-30, they were followed up with and 60-70% of the girls, who thought they were fat as teens, had become overweight as adults.
A Few Explanations For The Perpetual Struggle For the Ideal Body
The explanations for this conclusion are very vast and complex. Let’s take psychological stress, for example. This type of stress oftentimes leads to weight gain around the waist. When stress is compounded around fear of weight gain and stress over not having the ideal body type, this can lead to weight gain.
Another culprit can be the counterproductive measure of skipping meals in order to lose weight. If teens skip breakfast, this can lead to weight gain, even when they think it will lead to weight loss.
Another easy trap to fall into is trying to follow an unreasonable diet that cannot be kept up over the long term. This is also counterproductive because the body is striving to hold on to the weight it had before the start of the diet.
So what is our take away? Several things come to mind. There is such power in positive affirmation of our teen-age daughters. Make sure they feel affirmed and beautiful and don’t let them speak so self-critically about themselves. Furthermore, as adult women, we need to be positive role models. If our children, or others around us hear our own negative talk about our bodies, we need to nip it in the bud. Contentment with our bodies is such a wonderful and positive thing. When we have negative self-talk regarding our body image, we need to replace that with positive self-talk!