Study Shows Some Americans Would Choose Divorce, Depression and Alcoholism Over Obesity
May 23, 2006 -- What would you be willing to sacrifice if it ensured you'd never be fat?
Would you hand over a year of your life? Or 10 years?
Would you preferably be divorced, unable to possess children, depressed, alcoholic?
A disturbing new study out of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found that almost half -- 46 percent -- of 4,283 participants would rather hand over a year of their life than be obese. Fifteen percent were willing to offer up 10 years.
In fact, a surprisingly sizable amount of participants were willing to form extreme sacrifices if they might make certain they might never be obese.
These are hypothetical questions, of course, and therefore the answers aren't set in stone. Obesity may be a killer, so some participants probably figured that they were getting to die earlier anyway if they were obese, but what surprised the researchers was the amount of individuals who were willing to form extreme sacrifices.
"The percentages of individuals willing to form extreme sacrifices were much lower," said psychologist Marlene Schwartz, associate director of the middle and lead author during a report within the journal Obesity. "But what struck me was given how big our sample size was, there's still a big number of individuals who would hand over tons so as to not be obese."
More than 600 persons, for instance , were willing to offer up 10 years of their life. And, 342 said they might rather have a learning-disabled child than an obese child.
The findings show the big stigma placed on being fat, and that, Schwartz says, is one among the main reasons why some people just can't take it off.
One a part of the web study examined subconscious attitudes toward obesity and located that across the board, no matter age or weight of the participants, "individuals more strongly associated fat people with bad and thin people with good," the report said.
Fat people are seen as lazy and unwilling to undertake hard enough to reduce .
That, Schwartz says, may be a big a part of the matter . Even overweight participants within the study thought poorly of themselves, and once that level of self-condemnation is reached, it becomes nearly impossible to reduce .
"Children are constantly given the message, 'You're fat because you're lazy,' " Schwartz said, 'and you are not trying hard enough.' That child goes to internalize that message. And once somebody believes that about themselves, it's getting to get harder instead of easier for them to try to to the diligence that it takes to actually fight obesity and be healthy."
It's not that each one those fat people out there aren't trying.
"I think people do try, but it's extremely difficult to reduce and keep it off," she said.
Obesity, of course, can have many causes. Medical conditions,
genetics and lifestyle all play a neighborhood , but researchers contend that in many cases the remedy could also be beyond the victim's reach.
"Part of the matter is we view obesity as something that's under the person's control, and that we blame the individual for having the matter ," she said. "But i feel people overestimate what proportion control we've over our body's shape and weight. Therefore when someone is fat, we immediately assume they do not care enough to undertake to reduce . they're responsible for being overweight."
Of course, sometimes that's true, and sometimes it isn't .
In our current environment, she notes, it's particularly difficult to stay those extra pounds off. food is everywhere, conurbation forces us to drive rather than walk, diets fail, and that we get discouraged. So we calm down to observe a ball game on television, surrounded by food .
It's enough to form a body hand over , and that, Schwartz says, is strictly what's happening. that does not mean there's nothing which will help. Lifestyle changes make a difference, she says, and if people can take steps to become more physically active, and more careful about what they eat, then a number of those pounds can probably come off.
First, she insists, we have got to vary our attitudes about obesity.
"For there to be a change, we've to prevent blaming the individual," Schwartz said. "We've been blaming people for an extended time and it isn't working. So we'd like to try to to something else, and what i might suggest is specialise in the environment, pack up the environment and make it in order that whenever you switch around there is a healthy food option and it's hard to seek out food . Change our surroundings in order that it is easy to steer and it is easy to urge physical activity in your lifestyle ."
"I just don't think yelling more at people goes to urge us anywhere," she said.
Given prevailing attitudes about being overweight, though, change isn't likely to return quickly or easily.
The study, also by Lenny R. Vartanian and Kelly D. Brownell of Yale and Brian A. Nosek of the University of Virginia, reveals strong bias against people that are fat, which occurs across all ages and body shapes.
Of the 4,283 participants, 30 percent (1,285) said they might preferably be divorced than obese, 25 percent (1,070) said they might preferably be unable to possess children, 15 percent (642) said they might preferably be severely depressed, and 14 percent (600) said they might preferably be alcoholic.
Most drew the road at some sacrifices, but 10 percent (428) said they might rather have an anorexic child than an obese child, and eight percent (342) said they might rather have a learning-disabled child than an obese child.
That level of stigmatism drives some toward depression, which may cause eating disorders, which only worsens the matter .
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