Is Obesity a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

There are lots of people of normal, healthy weight who, when they look in the mirror, see a fat person. Many of them know that their perceptions are skewed, because trusted friends and family have testified that they are slender, yet they can’t deny what they see in their reflection and mind’s eye.

Such distorted perception is especially common among teenagers, and it has been linked to poor self-esteem and eating disorders. Adolescents who see themselves as overweight are more likely to use diet pills, laxatives, vomiting and extreme dieting to lose their imagined weight. Paradoxically, these teenagers exercise more than most, but they are also more prone to overeating, often while parked in front of the TV.

But do these teenagers actually grow up to be obese adults? The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a critical time for the development of obesity, but surprisingly, such teenage misperception has not been explored as a risk factor for obesity later on.

Until now. Florida State University psychological scientists Angelina Sutin and Antonio Terracciano wondered if this kind of misperception–and the self-stigmatization that accompanies it–might increase the likelihood of being obese in adulthood. In other words, do some teens, because they embody the caricature —> Read More Here


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