A significant number of normal weight and overweight women inaccurately perceive their body weight, increasing their risk of developing cardiovascular and other obesity-related diseases, according to a new study from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
Nearly 25 percent of normal weight women misperceive their body weight. Overweight women who perceive themselves as normal weight are also significantly less likely to diet or attempt to regulate their weight.
“What we found reflects the ‘fattening’ of America,” says author Mahbubur Rahman, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “As obesity numbers climb, many women identify overweight as normal, not based on the scale but on how they view themselves.”
The study analyzed more than 2,200 women 18-25 years old based on survey questions relating to height, weight, weight perception, and weight-related behaviors. Overall, 52 percent of participants were considered overweight or obese.
Weight-related behaviors assessed included using diet pills, skipping meals, eating less or differently, smoking more cigarettes, and not eating carbohydrates, among others. Respondents were also asked about the number of days over the last week that they exercised for at least 30 minutes continuously.
“Weight misperception is a threat to the success of obesity prevention programs,” says lead author Abbey Berenson, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “Overweight individuals who do not recognize that they are overweight are far less likely to eat healthfully and exercise. These patients are at risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other serious problems.”
Weight management tips
• Eat fewer calories and maintain your usual amount of physical activity.
• Lose weight slowly, averaging about one pound a week.
• Keep a food journal and weigh yourself regularly.
• Concentrate on the health benefits of being leaner and healthier.
Acupuncture & Massage College’s Community Clinic offers acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for weight loss and weight maintenance. To schedule an appointment call (305) 595-9500. For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs ask for Joe Calareso, Admissions Director.