Weightism And The Myths Of Obesity


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This is a presentation I created for the Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association to use as an educational tool.

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Weightism And The Myths Of Obesity

  1. 1. Weightism and the Myths of Obesity
  2. 2. What do you see? (Source:http://blogs.news.com.au/images/uploads/fat_thumb.jpg)
  3. 3. (Source: http://www.voanews.com/english/images/tv_obese-man-on-street2_6jun05_150.jpg)
  4. 4. (Source: http://www.spurgeon.org/images/Suge/fat_kid.jpg)
  5. 5. (Source: http://media.canada.com/canwest/90/obesity_friends.jpg)
  6. 6. Discussion <ul><li>What were the first words or thoughts that came to your mind when seeing these people? </li></ul><ul><li>What were your impressions about their health, happiness, intelligence, success? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you consider them attractive or unattractive? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>Did you write any words down about their body shape or size? Which ones? </li></ul><ul><li>Did anyone NOT think about the size of these people? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Weightism <ul><li>What is it? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Weightism is discrimination/prejudice against overweight individuals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overweight people (compared to thin people) are rated as less likable, perceived to have fewer romantic contacts, are less likely to be hired, and receive lower wages (Crandall and Reser 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Reported discrimination based on weight has increased by 66% (from 7% to 12% of U.S. adults) in the last decade </li></ul><ul><ul><li>28% of severely obese men and 45% of severely obese women report having experienced discrimination (Shkolnikova 2008) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Negative Attitudes <ul><li>List/name negative attitudes, comments or stereotypes people have towards overweight people </li></ul><ul><li>In contrast, how are thin/fit people viewed? </li></ul>(Source: cartoonstock.com)
  9. 9. Explaining Prejudices <ul><li>In America, people highly value individual responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>Overweight people are viewed as responsible for their weight resulting in negative evaluations of overweight people </li></ul>(Source: cartoonstock.com)
  10. 10. Breaking the Myths <ul><li>Myth #1: You can’t be overweight and healthy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Obesity is often linked with health dangers such as diabetes, high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Recent studies show that being overweight and active is healthier and leads to a longer lifespan than being thin and inactive. The health risks of obesity can be largely controlled by staying physically active and fit. Weight is not a primary determinant in a person’s health (Dunham 2007, The Center for Consumer Freedom 2005). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t assume overweight people only eat unhealthy foods and don’t exercise. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Myth # 2: Obesity will shorten life expectancy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Activists and politicians claim that this could be the first generation of children to live a shorter life span than their parents. The media and policy organizations emphasize facts from unreliable studies to create press attention and to benefit the diet, food, and pharmaceutical industries. Yet, there is NO scientific evidence that supports this statement. Obesity is not an independent predictor of mortality (The Center for Consumer Freedom 2005). </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Myth #3: Overeating is the primary cause of obesity <ul><ul><li>Studies demonstrate that inactivity may be a more significant factor in weight gain than overeating. There is a lack of evidence that caloric intake has increased in youths, indicating that the increased prevalence of obesity is not due to overeating but to low levels of physical activity. States reporting a higher percentage of no leisure-time physical activity also report higher rates of overweight and obesity (The Center for Consumer Freedom 2005). Research has further shown that most overweight people are genetically predisposed (MEDA 2007). </li></ul></ul>(Source: cartoonstock.com)
  13. 13. Myth #4: It’s a person’s own fault if he or she is overweight. It’s just a matter of self-control <ul><li>Diets are temporary and most don’t work. Most people gain their lost weight back or even more. Only 2 to 5% of people who diet can maintain their weight for 3 or more years. Some people are genetically predisposed to be larger; heredity and a history of ‘yo-yo” dieting can cause many people to become even larger (MEDA 2007). </li></ul>(Source: cartoonstock.com)
  14. 14. <ul><li>Myth #5: Overweight people are ugly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beauty is a culturally constructed and learned concept. Definitions of beauty vary all across the world and over time. Marilyn Monroe (actress and sex icon in the 1950’s and 1960’s) was a size 12. People come in all different sizes, shapes, colors, and abilities. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is not better to be thin or worse to be overweight. Whether a person is overweight or thin, every one is beautiful and a unique individual. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Healthy Fat <ul><li>A healthy amount of body fat for women ranges from 20% to 27% </li></ul><ul><ul><li>10% to 12% is made up of essential fat (lower levels can impair a person’s health) </li></ul></ul>Source: CSG Network >31 >25 Very high 27 to 31 17 to 25 High 20 to 27 13 to 17 Average 17 to 20 10 to 13 Low 14 to 17 7 to 10 Very low Women (%) Men (%) Fat Level Body Fat Comparison Table
  16. 16. Too Little Fat <ul><li>Not having enough fat can also be unhealthy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dieting and body fat loss can cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, abdominal pain, a decrease in bone density, and amenorrhea (Smolak and Striegel-Moore 2001, Smith et al 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2 types of body fat </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Essential: required for body’s hormone and immune system to function </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Storage: used for fuel for body in time of need </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Women carry essential fat in their breasts, pelvis, hips, and thighs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Biologically important to childbearing and other hormone related functions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women carry up to 4 times more essential fat than men (CSG Network) </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. What’s Wrong With This Picture? <ul><li>81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being overweight </li></ul><ul><li>35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>20-25% of those who become pathological dieters develop partial or full syndrome eating disorders (Campbell and Cunningham 2003) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>As American culture endorses an unrealistic body ideal people are taught to constantly strive to be thinner </li></ul>
  18. 18. Body fat has a negative connotation in American society, but fat is critical to the proper functions of the body!
  19. 19. References <ul><li>Campbell, Jennifer and Cunningham, Jessica. 2003. “The Mind/Body Dialogues.” MEDA. </li></ul><ul><li>Crandall, Christian S., and Reser, April Horstman. 2005. “Attributions and Weight-Based Prejudice.” Pp. 83 in Weight Bias: Nature, Consequences, and Remedies edited by Kelly D. Brownell, Rebecca M. Puhl, Marlene B. Schwartz, and Leslie Rudd. New York: The Guilford Press. </li></ul><ul><li>CSG Network. 2008. “Body Fat Calculator.” Computer Support Group, Inc. Retrieved June 11, 2008. http://www.csgnetwork.com/bodyfatcalc.html </li></ul><ul><li>Dunham, Will. 2007. “Being Fat and Fit is Better Than Being Thin and Sedentary, Study Says.” The Boston Globe . December 5 Retrieved December 5, 2007. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/12/05/being_fat_and_fit_is_better_than_being_thin_and_sedentary_study_says/ </li></ul><ul><li>MEDA. “Dispelling Common Myths About Large-Sized People.” Retrieved June 23, 2007. http://medainc.org/uploads/File/docs/18.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Shkolnikova, Svetlana. 2008. “Weight Discrimination Could Be As Common As Racial Bias.” USA Today , May 21. Retrieved June 9, 2008. Available: Academic Search Premier. </li></ul><ul><li>Smith, Melinda, Jaffe-Gill, Ellen, Segal, Robert, and Segal, Jeanne. 2008. “Anorexia Nervosa: Understanding the Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.” HealthGuide. Retrieved June 16, 2008. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/anorexia_signs_symptoms_causes_treament.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Smolak, Linda and Striegel-Moore, Ruth. 2001. “Body Image Concerns.” Pp. 201 in Encyclopedia of Women and Gender: Sex Similarities and Differences and the Impact of Society on Gender edited by Judith Worell. Boston: Academic Press. </li></ul><ul><li>The Center for Consumer Freedom. 2005. “An Epedemic of Obesity Myths.” Washington, D.C.: The Center for Consumer Freedom. Retrieved June 23, 2008. <http://www.obesitymyths.com/downloads/obesityMyths.pdf> </li></ul>