Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simply being called 'fat' makes young girls more likely to become obese: Trying to be thin is like trying to be tall

Date:
April 28, 2014
Source:
University of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
Girls who are told by a parent, sibling, friend, classmate or teacher that they are too fat at age 10 are more likely to be obese at age 19, a new study by psychologists shows.

Girls who are told by a parent, sibling, friend, classmate or teacher that they are too fat at age 10 are more likely to be obese at age 19.
Credit: olly / Fotolia

Girls who are told by a parent, sibling, friend, classmate or teacher that they are too fat at age 10 are more likely to be obese at age 19, a new study by UCLA psychologists shows.

The study looked at 1,213 African-American girls and 1,166 white girls living in Northern California, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., 58 percent of whom had been told they were too fat at age 10. All the girls had their height and weight measured at the beginning of the study and again after nine years.

Overall, the girls labeled fat were 1.66 times more likely than the other girls to be obese at 19, the researchers found. They also found that as the number people who told a girl she was fat increased, so did the likelihood that she would be obese nine years later. The findings appear in the June 2014 print issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics and are published online April 28.

"Simply being labeled as too fat has a measurable effect almost a decade later. We nearly fell off our chairs when we discovered this," said A. Janet Tomiyama, an assistant professor of psychology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science and the study's senior author. "Even after we statistically removed the effects of their actual weight, their income, their race and when they reached puberty, the effect remained.

"That means it's not just that heavier girls are called too fat and are still heavy years later; being labeled as too fat is creating an additional likelihood of being obese."

Co-author Jeffrey Hunger, a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara, said that simply being called fat may lead to behaviors that later result in obesity.

"Being labeled as too fat may lead people to worry about personally experiencing the stigma and discrimination faced by overweight individuals, and recent research suggests that experiencing or anticipating weight stigma increases stress and can lead to overeating," he said.

The data used in the study came from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

No connection between dieting and improvements in health

In a separate study published last December, Tomiyama, former UCLA psychology faculty member Traci Mann (now at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis) and UCLA graduate student Britt Ahlstrom analyzed 21 long-term studies on weight loss and health and found no clear relationship between weight loss and health improvements related to hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol and blood glucose.

"We found no connection whatsoever between the amount of weight loss -- whether small or large -- and any of these health outcomes," said Tomiyama of the study, which appeared in the health section of the journal, Social and Personality Psychology Compass.

"Everyone assumes that the more weight you lose, the healthier you are, but the lowest rates of mortality are actually in people who are overweight," she said. "At a body mass index of 30, which is labeled obese, there is no increased risk of mortality. This has now been shown over and over again. The highest rate of mortality is in the underweight people."

The research findings also confirmed the results of a 2007 study in which Tomiyama, Mann and colleagues analyzed 31 long-term studies and found that people can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of their weight on any number of diets, but the majority regain all the weight, plus more. Only a small minority, they discovered, sustain their weight loss.

"Eating in moderation is a good idea for everybody, and so is regular exercise," Mann said at the time of the initial study.

"If dieting worked, it wouldn't be a $60 billion dollar industry," said Tomiyama, who noted that trying to be thin is similar to trying to be taller.

"The genetic power over weight is about the same as the power of genes over your height," she said. "People who say it's your fault if you're fat underappreciate the role of genes."

Research has shown that twins separated at birth have very similar weights, regardless of the environment in which they grow up, Tomiyama noted.

She recommends focusing on eating healthier and fitness rather than obsessing about weight and strongly opposes stigmatizing people who are overweight.

"When people feel bad, they tend to eat more, not decide to diet or take a jog," she said. "Making people feel bad about their weight could increase their levels of the hormone cortisol, which generally leads to weight gain."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jeffrey M. Hunger, A. Janet Tomiyama. Weight Labeling and Obesity. JAMA Pediatrics, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.122

Cite This Page:

University of California - Los Angeles. "Simply being called 'fat' makes young girls more likely to become obese: Trying to be thin is like trying to be tall." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140428164115.htm>.
University of California - Los Angeles. (2014, April 28). Simply being called 'fat' makes young girls more likely to become obese: Trying to be thin is like trying to be tall. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140428164115.htm
University of California - Los Angeles. "Simply being called 'fat' makes young girls more likely to become obese: Trying to be thin is like trying to be tall." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140428164115.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins