Healthy Weight, Nutrition

The Interesting Thing That Happens When You Think You’re Fat

The rate of obesity in America is one of the highest in the developing world.

All it takes is a trip through the grocery store to see why

A never ending selection of some of the tastiest foods imaginable makes it downright impossible to resist fattening treats.

Truth is, while it might be easy to blame food for the rates of obesity, it turns out there’s another reason people end up being overweight.

They think themselves fat.

No, I didn’t make this up.

It turns out when you think you’re overweight it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, even if you aren’t overweight to begin with…

A new study performed on data following individuals in the U.S. and the U.K. found that simply thinking you’re overweight could lead to future weight gain.

The interesting thing about this study is researchers were initially trying to see if people who recognized they were overweight would behave differently than this who didn’t.

Eric Robinson, who was the head researcher for the study, said he and his team “wanted to test the common assumption that being ignorant to one’s weight status is always a bad thing.”
Essentially, they wanted to see if acknowledging their health problem would motivate them to lose weight.

Turns out, not really.

In fact, what they soon realized was when people thought they were overweight it caused them to feel discriminated against and gain more weight.

To come to an understanding on the matter, here’s what they did. 

First, they looked at data from three different studies.

The first study they looked at was of 4,000 Americans who were 28 at the time the data was collected. The data focused on BMI (body mass index) as well as their opinion of their weight.

A full 40% of those surveyed felt they were overweight.

After 7 years, the researchers went back to the those surveyed and assessed their BMI.

What they found was those who believed they were overweight at the beginning of the study had an increase of .9 percent in BMI.

In the next study, they looked at data of 6,740, 23-year-olds who were followed for a total of 22 years.

Here, 38% of those surveyed at the beginning of the study believed they were overweight.

In this case, they found those who believed themselves to be overweight had an increase in BMI of .08 percent.

And, in the third study, they checked out what happened when people who identified as being overweight would do when exposed to elevated levels of stress.

By using the data gleaned from 3,372 middle-aged people in the “Midlife in the U.S. Study”, the researchers observed if eating habits were affecting weight gain.

Reuters health notes:

“At the start, 67 percent of participants believed they were overweight- and these people gained an average of 0.3 more BMI points over a 9-10 year period, compared to those who didn’t consider themselves overweight.

Stress-induced overeating was found to explain a significant portion of the weight gain.”

Researchers aren’t exactly sure what to make of their findings, and the study’s head author is concerned about what their results tell them.

As he said:

“This may tell us something important about the experience of being an ‘overweight’ person in the 21st century…it’s rare for identification of a health issue to be associated with that issue becoming worse.”

At the end of the day, one thing this does tell us is the mind is a powerful thing.

I imagine if you can train your mind to think positive, affirming thoughts, you might stand a good chance of achieving whatever goals you have.

Good thing there’s a fair amount of evidence to support the notion.

Talk soon,

Dr. Wiggy