Calling girls fat increases obesity chances

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

obese teen
Be helpful if a loved one is on the road to obesity. Team up with them to eat better and exercise more. Encourage positive action, rather than negatively criticizing.

Obesity is a major problem in America, where one-third of youth are overweight due to unhealthy eating choices and lack of exercise. Considering that obesity can dramatically increase the risk of life-threatening conditions like heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure, it’s incredibly important to promote behaviors that prevent weight gain. However, if encouragement turns to criticism, a recent study found that telling girls they’re fat at the age of 10 makes them more likely to be obese by age 19.

While obesity shouldn’t just be ignored, it’s equally important to be supportive when educating people on the value of good nutrition and physical activity. Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) discovered that just casually telling young girls they’re fat makes them believe it, reinforcing negative behavior from lack of self-esteem.

After measuring 1,210 black girls and 1,160 white girls from around the nation, 58% of whom were called fat at age 10, the researchers checked back nine years later. The ones who had been told they were fat were 1.66 times more likely than the rest to be obese at age 19. Also, the more people that called a girl fat, the greater the odds were that she’d become obese. So, the next time you believe you’re doing someone a favor by calling them fat, think twice, because you just might encourage them to become heavier! Instead, team up with them to eat healthy and exercise more… together.

Featured image courtesy of Keirsten Marie on Flickr. Image of obese hiker courtesy of Caitlin Doe on Flickr.