Monday, July 14, 2008

More Are Failing To Recognise They Have A Weight Problem

“More and more people are failing to recognise they are overweight, despite an actual rise in the number of people who are clinically ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’, according to research published on today. Researchers from the Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London, compared data taken from two household surveys carried out in 1999 and 2007. In each survey participants were asked to give their height and weight (from which their Body Mass Index (BMI) and clinical weight category could be determined) and also categorise themselves as either: 'very underweight', 'underweight', 'about right', 'overweight' or 'very overweight'. The 2007 survey also included 'obese' as a category. Professor Jane Wardle and colleagues found the proportion of respondents whose weight placed them in the clinically obese category had nearly doubled in eight years from 11% in 1999 to 19% in 2007. Yet, those whose weight put them in the overweight category were less likely to think that they were overweight in 2007 than in 1999. In 1999, 43% of the population had a BMI that put them in the overweight or obese range, of whom 81% correctly identified themselves as overweight. But in 2007, 53% of the population had a BMI in the overweight or obese range, but only 75% of these correctly classed themselves as overweight. The researchers suggest that the growing division between actual and perceived weight may be due to overweight becoming more widespread in the population and the appearance of mild overweight being increasingly accepted as 'normal'. According to the authors, these perceptions are reinforced by media images of people who are morbidly obese, which add to the misconception that extremely high weights are required to meet the medical criteria for overweight. This can also increase the stigma attached to the labels 'overweight' and 'obese'.”

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