Researchers asked 5,893 people, 54% of them women, to choose their present body size and ideal body size from a chart depicting nine human figures. The discrepancy between the two was used to measure how satisfied the participants were with their bodies. Two to three percent of the subjects overall chose an "above-normal" size as ideal, but close to one in 10 obese people apparently felt that their size was normal and healthy.
However, say the study authors, 35% of obese people who felt this way had high blood pressure, 15% and high cholesterol, and 14% had diabetes. Time to freak out, right? If these people only knew they needed to lose weight, they'd be so much healthier. Except according to lead study author Tiffany Powell, these problems occurred at comparable rate in obese people who did feel like they were too fat. They just occurred along with a "healthy" dose of guilt.
The study did reveal a few benefits of "knowing you need to lose weight." Those who wanted to drop pounds were more likely to have seen a doctor in the past year (and yearly checkups are smart for many people), and also more likely to exercise. But since neither exercise nor going to the doctor has been proven to result in weight loss, isn't it time we stopped using fat-shaming to force people into these behaviors? Couldn't we find some way of promoting a healthy lifestyle that doesn't start with classifying people as abnormal?