The obesity epidemic has been raging on across the United States and while this has made people considerably more aware of their weight, it has also created a habit of self-weighing among young people. Both adolescents and young adults are turning to the scales in an alarmingly obsessive manner.
This may sound as though it is a step in a positive direction, as it means that adolescents and young adults are paying more attention to their body masses, a study, however, has recently shown that this activity may have some important drawbacks that need to be acknowledged.
The purpose of the research was to look into the specific impact of self-weighing on teens and young adults due to the fact that this is a time in a person’s life when beliefs and behaviors about food and fitness are being formed in a way that can be defining for a lifetime. What it determined was that by taking on this activity of regularly checking body weight, the outcome can actually have negative outcomes on the individual’s psychological wellness.
The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior and was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota, under Carly R. Pacanowski, PhD.
As the obesity rate continues to grow, it is likely that many behaviors connected to weight control will also become increasingly commonplace. For that reason, understanding the impact of those behaviors becomes very important. This is particularly true as we come to discover that while there may be a long list of health complications that are linked to being overweight, there are also quite a few that are connected with the efforts being made to manage body weight.
In the study, Dr. Pacanowski pointed out that some healthcare providers now see self-weighing as a potentially harmful behavior because it encourages the individual to think specifically about the number of pounds they weigh, as opposed to keeping the bigger picture – that of healthy lifestyle – in mind.
She underscored the fact that obesity among adolescents is certainly a matter of public health concern, but it that it should also be acknowledged that weight concerns and dissatisfaction with the body are early predictors of potential eating disorders. Therefore, while obesity prevention programs are helpful, they must be designed in a way that they don’t cause that type of predictor to be enforced. In teens, this could mean that there should be a greater focus on lifestyle and looking or feeling healthy, as opposed to measuring and tracking the numbers on a bathroom scale.