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Fat Women & Kids Don't See Themselves That Way

Wish you had a mirror like this?: image via joanharvest.wordpress.comWish you had a mirror like this?: image via joanharvest.wordpress.com When severely underweight, anorexic women look in the mirror, they often see a fat version of themselves staring back.  But according to a study conducted by Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, overweight and obese women and children are seeing thinner versions of themselves.

The study subjects were 111 urban mothers and their kids.  The average age of the moms was 39 and their children ranged in age from 7 to 13 years old.  Sixty-six of the mothers were classified as overweight or obese and 39 percent of their children were classified in either category also.

Though the Columbia study did not use mirrors to reflect body images, it did utilize silhouettes of varying sizes, and when obese women and children chose their best representative silhouettes, the overwhelming majority chose slimmer ones.  Only 18 percent of obese women chose obese silhouettes.  Of the overweight women, 58 percent chose overweight silhouettes, while 42 percent chose normal weight shapes.

Additionally, the study reported that:

  • 82 percent of obese mothers and 43 percent of overweight mothers underestimated their weight.
  • 86 percent of overweight or obese children underestimated their weight, while only 15 percent of normal-sized kids did.
  • 48 percent of mothers of obese or overweight children thought their childrens' weights were normal.
  • 13 percent of normal-weight mothers underestimated their weight.

Lead author, Dr. Nicole Dumas, and her colleagues presented their paper to the American Heart Association's scientific session in Atlanta, held this past week.  The group's findings support those of a September 2010 Harris Interactive/HealthDay survey in its findings that 30 percent of overweight people thought their weight was normal and 70 percent of obese persons classified themselves as overweight.

The Columbia report furthers the need to education parents, particularly mothers, about nutrition and achieving normal weight for themselves and their kids.  If you need tips on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, including how to determine where you fall on the weight classification scheme, visit the Center For Disease Control's 'Healthy Weight' section.  There's a wealth of information about all aspects of weight control


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