Tag Archives: cortisol

You know what’s fattening? News about the Obesity Crisis.

I wonder how many times studies will need to come out and people will need to talk about the damage caused by panic mongering over the obesity crisis before the media stops covering it.  I wonder if the media will ever stop sensationalizing fat.

Today I came across another article in U.S. News citing a small study that some women exposed to an article that appears to devalue fat people (how many of those do we see per day?)  seems to spur people to overeat.

The study was designed to determine if people who felt stigmatized for being overweight were likely to eat more, due to resulting anxiety or frustration, said study author Brenda Major. She is a professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara…

Seeing media stories covering the so-called “obesity epidemic” and its potential impact on health care costs triggered Major’s interest in doing this study, she said. “There’s a frenzy about obesity in the media and there’s a negative, moralistic tone to the coverage,” she said.

Not surprising (to me at least) is that the results showed that presented with articles of how fat people were weak-willed or a high “cost to society” many of those studied turned to food for comfort.  The article cited other studies that indicate women placed in a situation where they felt devalued because of their weight had higher blood pressure and studies showing that discrimination based on weight can lead to weight gain.

And just this week, another study was released by the Rudd Center regarding the effect of weight stigma on cortisol reactivity.  What was truly fascinating about this study, is that perceived weight stigma affected the cortisol levels of all women, regardless of BMI.  So in other words, women of all sizes carried significantly greater levels of stress hormones after a single incident of weight stigma.  These stress hormones are related to many processes in the body including regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure.

All of which leads us to ask the question again.  Why oh why oh why does the world feel that it is okay to stigmatize fat people for their own good.  It doesn’t do fat people any good.  And in fact, there is ever increasing evidence that weight stigma makes people less healthy and probably makes them gain weight.

I think we have to start to wonder what various people and groups are getting out of wagging their finger at the fat folks.  Do they get a sense of superiority?  Do they get higher ratings?  Do I care why they do it?  Nope.  I just want them to stop.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

The Stress of Stigma and Body Dissatisfaction

Loving your body can really help reduce stress in your life!

Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about satisfaction and stress. Today I’m going to stand at the intersection of these two ideas and talk about how feeling bad about your body is bad for your health. There’s no question that many of us are dissatisfied with our bodies. The cult of media and celebrity focuses our minds on a body ideal that is not even achieved by the most beautiful of the “beautiful people”. The vast majority of images in magazines are digitally altered to even more impossible beauty standards. And it’s a not so carefully guarded “insider secret” that a number of film and television stars demand that the image be “vertically stretched” to make themselves appear even taller and thinner on TV and the silver screen. It’s no wonder that so many of us have negative thoughts about our bodies. We’re not talking about a few minor thoughts now and again. A recent survey suggests that young women have an average of 13 seriously negative thoughts about their bodies per day–nearly one for every waking hour. And a surprising number of us have a lot more negative thoughts than that with 35, 50 or even 100 brutal thoughts about our bodies every day.

Unfortunately, all this body hatred is very bad for our health. Aside from the well known ties to depression, anxiety, and even suicide, body dissatisfaction leads to increased stress and ultimately to poorer physical health.  Research at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver links women with poor body image with increases in the stress hormone cortisol.  And increases in cortisol can lead to higher blood pressure, sleep disturbances, digestive problems and can negatively impact virtually all body processes.

So one important element in dealing with stress in our lives, is learning to love our bodies as they are, rather than constantly comparing them with impossible ideals.  One way to do this is to put yourself on a media diet, and minimize exposure to fashion magazines and prime-time television.  Another is (not surprisingly) to get regular exercise, as women who exercise tend to feel better about their bodies.  And finally, don’t hesitate to seek advice from amazing healers like Golda Poretsky who help you make peace with your size and shape.

So whenever you’re stressed my little chicklettes, consider the notion that body dissatisfaction might be a central cause.  And resolve to love the skin you’re in.


The Fat Chick