Overweight and Mental Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control more than a third of American adults—over 72 million people—were obese in 2005 and 2006 and they predicted that, unless we change our eating and exercise habits, 86 percent of the American population will be overweight or obese by the year 2030. People who are obese are more susceptible to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, orthopedic problems and stroke. But being overweight or obese doesn’t just affect your physical health. You may also have feelings of guilt, embarrassment, low energy, isolate yourself socially, and feel depressed. These feelings can definitely impact your physical health and even shorten your lifespan.
The Social Consequences of Being Overweight
While being fat was once seen as a sign of wealth and comfort, most people almost automatically assume that someone is overweight or obese because they overeat on pizza, cheeseburgers and ice cream. But it’s not that simple. We live in a society in which you can get great tasting, high-calorie, high fat foods at any time of the day or night. They actually have a name for this: “the obesogenic society.” Some obese people may have jobs that require them to work seated for long hours and just don’t have the time or energy to exercise. And, food is ALWAYS THERE. This results in eating many more calories than their level of activity can burn off and leads to constant gain weight.
Overweight and obese people may feel strongly stigmatized and experience discrimination because of their weight. Discrimination usually begins during early school years, when overweight persons are not chosen for school teams, and this discrimination extends into adult life. In schools and colleges, obese students face harassment, rejection from peers, and biased attitudes from teachers. At work, obese people commonly report they have experienced humiliation and discrimination related to their weight – such as not getting promotions. Obese employees are often viewed as less competent, sloppy, and lacking in self-discipline by co-workers and supervisors.
What can be done to reduce the stigma of obesity?
You have a voice at work and at home. You don’t have to accept discrimination in school or in your workplace. It’s okay to share with your co-workers that YOU ARE NOT YOUR WEIGHT. Also, if you are trying to lose weight you should be sure to surround yourself with supportive, caring friends and family members. Be open about your weight loss goals and ask explicitly for a helping and motivating hand. Supportive friends and family are a vital part of your weight loss program
Finally, take the word “diet” out of your dictionary and vocabulary. Diets don’t work. Lifestyle change does. Eat healthier foods…eat smaller portions…exercise at least 30 minutes a day. And think happy thoughts.
Columbia Counseling is here to help you on your journey to a natural, healthy weight. Our caring therapists and medical staff can help you to look at your lifestyle and help you understand what you might do to successfully achieve your weight loss goals. Call us at 410- 992 – 9149 for an initial appointment to begin a rational, sustainable and effective weight loss program.