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Are You Afraid Of Getting Fat?

By July 9, 2011

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Maybe you see yourself as a healthy woman with a good body image and no fear of getting fat. Perhaps you've even taken psychological tests that prove you have a good body image. Does having a good body image mean that you really have no fear of getting fat? According to Brigham Young University researchers, you may only fooling yourself when you profess to have a good body image.

A group of women who claimed to have no body image issues, and who were given standard psychological testing to prove that point, were understandably surprised when the results of MRI testing revealed that they may not be so sure of their body images. BYU researchers used MRI to determine what happened in the brain of the women who seemed to have good body images, when shown pictures of strangers, some of whom were overweight. The brains of these women reacted strongly when they were shown pictures of overweight women. The results showed clear anxiety about the overweight women, and fear about getting fat and seeing themselves in a less positive light.

This study was necessary to establish a point of reference among women who otherwise scored in the healthy range on eating disorder diagnostic testing. Although the women's reactions were far less significant than it was in women diagnosed with eating disorders, researchers determined that even so called healthy women have "sub-clinical" issues with body image.

The results of this study appear in the May issue of the psychological journal Personality and Individual Differences.

How do you see yourself? Do you fear that you'll gain weight? What do you feel when you see overweight people?

April 14, 2010 at 7:31 pm
(1) resveratrol says:

I’m actually thin and that’s obvious and getting fat is one of my frustration but seeing people who are obese concerns me a lot because I see them as a person who always have a health issues.

April 17, 2010 at 7:59 am
(2) Wendy says:

HI Tracee, Just discovered your blog. Thanks for bringing up this issue about women’s weight. I am a health practitioner specialising in women’s health in Australia and have noticed these days that alot of women I see are concerned about weight but often don’t want to make it a big issue to start with. I treat alot of conditions which weight issues contribute too, either too low in weight or too much of it, such as Polycystic ovarian syndrome as well as failure to conceive due to low weight. It seems to be a ‘weighty’ issue no matter which direction, I think many woman are very conscious of weight as it seems to be such a huge topic with the media these days.

April 18, 2010 at 1:46 am
(3) PaulaF says:

Well said, Wendy..

April 19, 2010 at 7:44 am
(4) CPR AEds says:

I am a good healthy lady. I have no fear to gain weight because i mostly do lots of physical work. When i see overweight people i feel that they are more interested in eating rather than working out.

April 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm
(5) ashley says:

I have always been scared of being over weight. I’m not a big person now and am fairly active but I look around me and my parents and granparents our over weight. They are truely beautiful people on the inside and out but it scares me to think I could end up that way! I know its not healthy to stress about it but its not healthy being over weight either. There seems to never b enough time in the day or I never have enough energy to work out when I need it.. What should I do

April 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm
(6) Dar says:

This is such an interesting/complex topic.
I remember being an 8 year old and looking at my thighs and thinking how fat they were. I’m 54 now, and have about 5-7 extra pounds on me which I believe age has helped me accept a little better. But when I look at my mother, who has become obest, I am worried. And then when I talk to the gentlemen about this very thing, for the most part they are very accepting of their physical condition, no matter what!

April 23, 2010 at 1:01 pm
(7) Linda says:

I’m 54 years-old and can’t remember a time since Grade School when I haven’t been concerned about my weight. I know that this is a life-long struggle and have always decided to fight the battle. Right now I’m being careful of what I eat and on the treadmill every day doing 2 miles. My goal is do 4 miles. Due to other health issues I’m unable to walk outside, but the treadmill is definitely helping with my war on the bulge!

April 27, 2010 at 7:59 pm
(8) dr.marquitacaroll says:

frame of mental and moral state of mind. trans fat from foods has geneation for muscle tissue. put your moral state of mind to the healthy trans. reminder of the oil tissue would be for the elastique tissue for skin natural look.

April 28, 2010 at 1:57 am
(9) amitkumar says:

Great writeup, fighting fat and keeping fit is a daily process rather than a single process. Its better to start work on it day by day than regretting on it later.

April 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm
(10) Hair Loss Information says:

I don’t think these researchers have proven anything here–this is common knowledge! We are not cows out in the field–we are self-aware. Body image is a basic aspect of human existence.

April 30, 2010 at 9:54 pm
(11) Julie says:

I am 43 years old, and in the last year and a half, I’ve gained 40 pounds–from 120 to 160. I didn’t stop exercising, and I still eat well (even better). Apparently I have some endocrine disorders and a pituitary tumor. I’ve undergone tons of testing, and some early treatments. I know in my head, and from the doctors, that whatever this is, it isn’t my fault. I always thought I had a good body image–I always took pride in my lean physique, even after babies….because I thought I EARNED it–good nutrition and regular exercise. I even coached lots of people about accepting their bodies, as long as they were healthy. But now….I can’t even tell you what this is like. I hate who I’ve become. I hate that it bothers me. I’ve tried everything under the sun for the past year, and NOTHING works. I haven’t lost one pound. A doctor even put me on phentermine, to help with weight loss, and I’ve had no results. I could go on, but my real points are these–I’ve had numerous side effects from medications, supplements, and I generally just feel rotten. I feel very alone, and I don’t feel like I can talk to anyone. Either people tell me what they think I should do, or how this is a journey I just need to accept, or they give me a card for yet another doctor, healer, acupuncturist, etc. And each day I struggle to find something to get up for. I have a good job, two great kids and a wonderful husband and yet I can’t get out of this funk. Don’t worry–I take an anti-depressant and anxiety medication, so I think I’m “safe.” I’m just so alone in all of it. Any advice about how to get

May 2, 2010 at 6:39 pm
(12) Healthy tips says:

No fear no fat

May 3, 2010 at 11:18 pm
(13) Tonya says:

Julie-many times when someone starts an antidepressant medicine, that can make you gain weight too. I started taking Zoloft a few years ago and put on some weight. I have a cyst on my pituitary gland, but never thought that may have any connection to my weight gain. That’s something I’ll ask my doctor about. Thanks for the insight.

May 12, 2010 at 6:02 am
(14) Anne Vaillancourt says:

In a culture that values thin women, it would be impossible for a woman not to have some fear of getting fat. It is more important to feel healthy and good about yourself than strive for a specific size. A good diet, regular exercise and plenty of sleep can help a woman feel fit. Weight loss in women isn’t always easy, especially as they get into hormonal issues.

July 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm
(15) Jenn Brigole says:

They way I see it personally, if you believe in your own truth that you don’t have real issue with weight or getting fat, don’t think about it so much. If you feel good about yourself whenever you stand in front of the mirror (at the moment), avoid exposing yourself to those that might make you think to consider about being overweight and what not. You would only set yourself up to fail one way or another, if you keep up with reading news and articles about such issues. Do yourself a favor and just be conscious enough to think healthy and long life.

July 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm
(16) Mark Rosenberg, M.D. says:

Hi Tracee, what wonderful work you are doing here. Great Blog!.

I think many of my patients fear that they will gain weight and become fat. And so much fear and reliance on what a scale tells them. I always remind them that a number on a scale only tells you what your entire body weighs but not how much is muscle mass or fat weight. The focus for most people should be how to turn fat into fit.

I recommend to my patients to simply use a plain old tape measure to decrease abdominal fat and track muscle growth. Get insulin levels under control with a low sugar/carb diet, aerobic exercise and weight training. Focus on the positive, turning fat into fit, and live a happy healthy life.

July 28, 2011 at 11:16 am
(17) Laura Kreiger says:

Interesting study. I see many clients with body image issues who are not necessarily coming in for eating disorder treatment. Unfortunately, the media’s influence effects how many women feel about their bodies.

August 3, 2011 at 8:57 am
(18) adrianne lukas says:

I believe a good percentage of women have this fear of getting fat that is why there’s a boom in the aesthetic treatment industry. You cannot say that just because you are already slim, you no longer have fears of getting fat.

September 30, 2011 at 10:16 am
(19) summer112 says:

hi i read your blog and like most women in the USA i care about what i look like… I come from a family that even the extended family everyone is over weight my cousin is the only other person in my family that is not overweight as an adult… i was a gymnast as a young child and till i was 14 i am used to being small but as time goes on i am constantly changing my family tells me i’m thin but i never believe them because honestly in comparison most people are thin…i sometimes can’t eat because the food put in front of me is just not appetizing no matter what it is and i find myself not eating very much at all when i’m with my family does this mean i have an eating disorder…i am healthy i exersize regularly and i do eat juts not a lot i intake between 800-1000 calories a day and only run for about 3 miles a day i don’t think i have an eating disorder but my mother seems to think something is wrong with me because i am 5’5 and at 135 she says i’m too skinny which i am not…i don’t throw up my food on purpose or starve myself…i just choose not to binge on junk food or any kind of food… but sometime i go all day with out eating but maybe snacking on and drinking my calories i drink milk a lot because it makes me feel full and its about 130 calories per serving…and it is healthy i am just wondering if its unhealthy to not want to be fat i guess?

November 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm
(20) a3023581 says:

I’ve said that least 3023581 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

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