Don’t get weighed down with fat thoughts, it could make you obese

A warning to all who are always worried and feeling stressed about their weight…Feeling fat during adolescence can apparently make you obese during your later life, according to the findings of a new Norwegian study.

Experts at the Norwegian University of Science, carefully examined data collated from 1196 healthy male and female teenagers who were of normal weight. The teens were tracked for a two year time period between 1995 to 1997, as part of a survey titled ‘Young-HUNT1’.  The researchers then followed them again for another two year period, during 2006 to 2008. This part of the analysis was named ‘Young-HUNT3’, and here all the subjects were now aged between 24 and 30.

It was discovered that about half of the subjects involved in the study still had what could be classed as a ‘normal weight’ in their adult life. The findings were very intriguing in regards to those in the overweight category.

The study determined that 59% of the girls, who had said they had felt fat when they were a teenager, then became overweight in later years. These results came about after researchers used the body mass index (BMI) as the weight scale. However, when waist circumference was instead utilised as the measure of obesity, the percentage of participants that regarded themselves as fat as teens who then were overweight as adults, was now 78%.

Interestingly when using the BMI model for weight measurement, it was found that only 31% of the girls were overweight who had said they did not think they were fat during their teenage years. For waist circumference, the figure rose to 55%.

The study ascertained that teenage girls seemed to be more paranoid about their weight in comparison to the boys. Overall, 22% of the teenage girls in the first study said they felt they were fat, compared to just 9% of the boys.

Koenraad Cuypers, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, spoke on his team’s findings. He commented, “Adolescents seeing themselves as overweight may focus more on food and shift to unhealthy dietary behaviours resulting in weight gain. Another explanation may be that young people who see themselves as fat often change their eating habits by skipping meals, for example. Research has shown that dropping breakfast can lead to obesity.”

Cuypers also offered his thoughts on why the trend of more girls than boys being weight-conscious could be occurring and offered his advice. Koenraad says he thinks this particular result could be down to media pressure, with more focus on female celebrity bodies than their male counterparts. He said, “Girls thus experience more psychosocial stress to achieve the ideal body. Society needs to move away from a focus on weight, and instead needs to emphasise healthy eating habits, such as eating regular and varied meals and eating breakfast. Good sleep habits are also an advantage. And by reducing the amount that teens are transported to and from school and recreational activities, teens might also be able to avoid getting a ‘commuter belly’.”

It comes as no shock to Medical Specialists Pharmacy to learn about just how self-conscious today’s youths are about their weight and body image. There are so many media outlets such as newspapers, magazines, television shows, which all never seem to hesitate in scrutinising people in the public eye and reporting on even a few pounds of weight gain. A popular show amongst the current teenage generation is ‘The Only Way Is Essex’, and almost every week without fail, two of its stars – Gemma Collins and Lauren Goodger, have their weight struggles documented and many websites do not hesitate in making fun of them. The results of the study do raise some interesting points but Medical Specialists think more research needs to be conducted instead of just analysing simply 1196 people.

The interesting main conclusion of the study we believe is that so many young children are growing up in a world where they feel they have to look ‘perfect’ and slim, and the media are not doing much to help this or promote healthy, regular eating. Instead what we could now see is children skipping meals and then missing out on vital vitamins and minerals which are essential for their body development. Imagine if your child refused to eat his or her cereal each morning and all that calcium they are not taking in. This is vital for the growth of teeth and bones and will lessen the chances of osteoporosis in their later years. We think the government needs to act on this issue rapidly before this problem escalates even more.

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