The famous words of wisdom quote: ‘For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he*’, is as true today, as it was when it was written thousands of years ago.
Recently, US researchers from Florida State University, have found that individuals (male & female) who erroneously think they are overweight are 'more likely (40%) to be obese ( BMI of 30 or more) later in life’; they are literally able to think themselves fat.
6,500 teens and young adults aged 16 and 28 took part in the study. Data** collected when each individual was 16 years old was analysed. The data included information on height, weight and weight related body image (participant scored themselves between 1 and 5 e.g. 1 - very underweight and 5 -very overweight).
Body image/self perception issues, the battleground of which is in the mind, are traditionally highlighted as an early indicator of the person developing eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. The disorders are the result of unhealthy behaviours; behaviours which the individual may find difficult to control, such as over eating, consuming diet pills or vomiting. The results of this study suggest that obesity should be added to the list of potential health issues.
Interestingly, boys have been identified as being
at greater risks than girls; contrary to conventional wisdom that body image
issues are female problems. Boys who wrongly perceived themselves as overweight
had an 89% increased risk of later obesity in compared to boys who do not have a
distorted view of themselves.
“Our research”, said Angelina Sutin (study author), “shows that psychological factors are important in the development of obesity.
“Misperception is typically taken as a sign of an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, but our research shows that it may also signal a long-term risk of obesity.
“The teens are likely also influenced by weight-related stigmatisation, which is itself associated with obesity.
“Adolescents who misperceive themselves as being overweight may not take the steps necessary to maintain a healthy weight.
“...[as] they gain weight, they physically become what they have long perceived themselves to be.
“At this point, it is not really clear [why boys are more affected than girls]. It may be that girls are more attentive to their weight and may intervene earlier when they experience any weight gain. As such, the self-fulfilling prophecy may be stronger for boys than for girls.”
*Proverbs 23:7 King James Version (KJV) ** National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.