Teenagers who think they’re too fat, when they’re not, are at greater risk of becoming overweight or obese adults, according to a US study.
We know that self-esteem plays a role in eating behavior, but this new study shows how the misperception of weight in adolescence is a predictor of later obesity.
Conducted by researchers from the Florida State University College of Medicine, the study covers a sample of 6,523 adolescents aged 16 on average at the start and 58% of them girls. The teenagers were seen again 12 years later.
89% of boys with a false image of themselves will become overweight
The results show that adolescents who have a poor representation of their weight at 16 years old, by finding themselves too fat at a trot, have a higher risk of being obese 12 years later, compared to those who do not have a such representation. The increased risk is found in both sexes, but surprisingly, it is more marked in boys (+89%) than in girls (+29%).
The serious risk of devaluation
This study therefore shows that, like social stigma around weight, self-stigma in relation to weight is a powerful indicator of the development of obesity. This does not mean, however, that we should go into the opposite excess, namely to deny the problem of proven excess weight in adolescence, which also predicts obesity in adults.
Sutin AR: Body weight misperception in adolescence and incident obesity in young adulthood. Psychol Sci, 5/03/2015.
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