Sunday, November 11, 2012

Excess Weight: The Psychological Impact

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There is no debate; excess weight is bad for your health. But what many women and men dont realize is that its harmful to your men- tal health, too. The psychological stress of being extremely large affects both genders in similar ways. For starters, overweight people are often unfairly stereotyped as lazy and undisciplined. Theres also evidence that obese women and men may be the victims of discrimination when looking for a job. In addition, studies have found that people who carry extra pounds, regardless of their gender or ethnicity,
often have a poor body image and are more dissatisfied with their appearance than people with a healthy weight. As a result of being too heavy, many overweight people often avoid social situations and spend more time alone that do healthy-weight people.
While excess weight negatively affects the psychological well-being of both genders, it seems to take a greater emotional toll on women. Studies have found that women are more likely than men to be dissat- isfied with their weight and overall body image. And most womens dissatisfaction with their weight starts early in life and lasts through- out adulthood. Why? The answer lies, at least in part, in our cultural obsession with female thinness. Weight Watchers researchers often hear women say that they feel that others judge them more on their appearance (how thin and attractive they are) than on who they are and what
they are capable of doing. Where do women get that belief? The media is a key source. Most of the beautiful women featured in magazines or on the big screen are extraordinarily thin, and for many women, extraordinary thinness becomes their standard of beauty.
This seems to be primarily a womans issue. In a study in which men and women were asked to evaluate ideal body shapes and assess how they thought their bodies compared with their ideals, men were found to be generally satisfied. In contrast, the women consistently saw themselves as being heavier than their ideal and expressed a desire to be thinner.
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