Perception is Not Reality
By Carolyn Richardson
Each time my grandfather witnessed stupid behavior, no matter the source, he’d say, “Sense will save you, but ignorance will kill you.” And for many overweight and obese people, sensing or perceiving their plight is elusive. In fact, a new study found that one in four overweight and obese people do not believe they are overweight.
Hovering around 66 percent in America, being overweight and obese really can kill you. Obesity is now the No. 1 preventable killer in the country, according to Beverly J. Mortimer, APRN, FNP-C with the Bale Center for Prevention in Kentucky. Knowing if you are obese or overweight truly has become a matter of life or death because it has been tied to an increased risk of many chronic diseases. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases account for seven out of ten deaths among Americans each year.
Published this year in the Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, and lead by Duke Researcher Dustin Duncan, the study revealed the misperception of weight status among about 5,000 obese and overweight people using data from the 2003-2006 NHANES, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Overweight and obese individuals who reported being "underweight or about the right weight" were 71% less likely to say they wanted to lose weight and 60% less likely to have attempted to lose weight in the past year when compared to those who accurately perceived themselves as overweight. The results have far-reaching public health implications.
The study implicates a number of public health considerations in helping weight loss efforts and preventing obesity. Researchers call for more studies in relation to attitudes and weight-related behaviors. For example, exposure to obesity in others has been shown to increase weight misperception. Also, social comparison across gender and race/ethnicity has been shown to contribute to weight misperception. For example, overweight men have greater body image satisfaction, and blacks have higher social acceptance of heavier body weight.
Solutions seem to center around knowing the truth. The study found that when medical professionals inform their obese patients of their status and encourage them to lose weight, weight loss attempts increase dramatically. To better ‘sense’ your weight status, use Calorie Count’s Tools. You can determine your BMI, dietary profile, and calorie burn profile. Knowing these factors can help get you on track to a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Do you know people who misperceive their weight?
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