If you were asked the question – Are you of normal weight, are you underweight, overweight or obese, do you think you could answer accurately? Chances are you would be incorrect in your answer.
Not only do people often underestimate their weight and think they are of normal weight when they are overweight, but the opposite is true as well. Many of those who are underweight may classify themselves as of normal weight or even think themselves to be underweight.
According to experts underestimating one’s weight can have serious consequences, since it may mean that people have a false sense of complacency about their weight and may do nothing about it.
Those who think of themselves as being of healthy weight when they are in fact not so, could be endangering themselves by being less likely to eat healthy and exercise regularly. These people are more likely to be at risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and so on.
This is a trend observed more in certain ethnic groups – Hispanic and African American individuals were more likely to think of themselves as being of normal weight when they may be overweight.
Individuals who think of themselves as being overweight when in fact they are underweight or of normal weight can also exhibit behavior that may be bad for their health since they could engage in smoking, skipping meals, taking diuretics or purgatives over exercising and so on. This could result in eating disorders, and other health issues may result from this behavior.
It isn’t just women, but men as well often tend to be wrong about their real weight; leading them to harmful behaviors. And it isn’t just adults; the skewed perception persists in case of children too; parents tend to underestimate the weight of their kids, which can also have obvious negative repercussions.
Often the reason for erroneously thinking oneself to be of normal weight when one is overweight is that people one is surrounded by are overweight causing this distortion of perception. Media portrayals are another reason for this skewed perception of one’s own weight.
There are at times, unreasonable expectations put on women to be and to look a certain way because of the waif life models and actors that define the ideal of beauty in the glamour industry. Here it is women who are more at risk, since being overweight on screen appears to be more acceptable for men than it is for women.