Obesity-related illnesses account for $190.2 billion in medical spending in the United States (about 21 percent of annual medical spending period). There is no sign of it slowing down any time soon either.
Raya Muttarak, DPhil, from the University of East Anglia and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, conducted the study, taking a look at the body-positive movement and its impact on the collective health of the people.
Around 93.3 million U.S. adults are impacted by obesity. While the body-positive movement may have a positive effect on their overall self-esteem, it is having an even more significant impact on their physical health.
The Body-Positive Movement May Cloud Your Judgement
What Muttarak found was that the number of people underestimating their weight has increased over time. To come to this conclusion, researchers surveyed more than 23,000 overweight or obese adults in Britain. They gauged their perception of their weight against how much they actually weight.
According to the study, 57.9 percent of men and 30.6 percent of women underestimate their weight, compared to 48.4 percent and 24.5 percent in 1997. Those who misperceived their weight were 85 percent less likely to make an attempt to lose weight.
“Seeing the huge potential of the fuller-sized fashion market, retailers may have contributed to the normalization of being overweight and obese,” stated Muttarak. “While this type of body-positive movement helps reduce stigmatization of larger-sized bodies, it can potentially undermine the recognition of being overweight and its health consequences.”
Additionally, the study found that nearly 84 percent of women and 43 percent of men are not happy with their bodies. This type of feeling about themselves could lead to eating disorders and depression. On top of that, it was also found people with lower incomes are more likely to be overweight as well.
“The higher prevalence of being overweight and obesity among individuals with lower levels of education and income may contribute to visual normalization — that is, more regular visual exposure to people with excess weight than their counterparts with higher socioeconomic status have,” said Muttarak.
Critics of the body-positive movement point out that it creates the idea that weight and health aren’t connected in any way. Many people call it an excuse for individuals who are overweight to keep the extra pounds on. Essentially, the wrong kind of body positivity could blind individuals from seeing weight gain and potential health problems.
This study was published in the journal Obesity.
Readers, what do you think about the body-positive movement and its potential impact on obesity in the U.S.?
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