PR Log - Oct 04, 2012 - American newsreader Jennifer Livingston’s response to a viewer who emailed her suggesting she lose some weight highlights the fact that we are now living in a society which is in almost denial about the state of our weight, that no longer believes that permanent weight loss is possible and that is socially conditioning our future generations to see people who are overweight as victims of forces beyond their control.
Studies in weight perception (or misperception) reveal that as everyone in society gains weight, we are gradually losing sight of what a normal healthy weight actually is. There has been a monumental shift in what is considered "normal" on a societal level. People with a BMI of 28, for example, were much more likely to identify themselves as overweight twenty years ago, compared to ten years ago when more of them considered themselves to be “about right” even though they were technically overweight. Whilst the BMI chart is often criticized, it does give an accurate reading for an average person (i.e., someone who is not extremely tall, extremely short, pregnant or excessively muscular) yet is too often dismissed as being inaccurate by people wishing to find some kind of excuse for being overweight. We no longer need “normal” role models for our weight because “normal” now means overweight.
Australians spent $790 million on weight loss products, potions, plans and procedures in 2011 (a rise from $745 million in 2011). However, not only are we one of the fattest nations in the world, we’re getting fatter much faster than anyone else in the world.
“Weight loss plans and programs are nothing more than a money-making machine for the gyms and companies that produce them and the sooner consumers realize that the healthier, and wealthier, they will become.” Sally Symonds
Obesity is now a crisis of confidence as much as anything else because so many people have tried, and failed, with quick fix “solutions” which are only a panacea to this epidemic and designed more with marketability, rather than waist-line measurability, as the most important criteria.
“Weight loss plans and programs work against so many of our fundamental psychological needs that there’s just no way that we can succeed. They are designed for us to fail. Autonomy, self-empowerment, mastery, positive experiences, purpose and engagement are all discouraged by such plans so we soon fall victim to what psychologists call "counter-regulation." It's the "what the hell" effect when we go from eating one bite of chocolate cake to three pieces or a week of no exercise soon turns into a year." Sally Symonds
The fitness industry is so saturated with messages that losing weight is all about deprivation and discomfort that few “non-exercisers” are enticed into taking this common-sense approach. In terms of the whole Australian population only the equivalent of the population of Melbourne have some kind of fitness membership and only the equivalent of the population of Canberra actually use this membership more than once a week (so enough for it to actually be effective).
Disturbingly, implicit association tests conducted on health professionals in the weight reduction field reveals that many members of the industry actually have a higher anti-fat prejudice than the general population, and that the longer a person worked in an obesity-reduction related field, the higher their levels of anti-fat bias became. The more a person’s obesity was attributed to “controllable” lifestyle reasons (such as diet and exercise, the cornerstones of a “good” program preached by the majority of today’s health professionals) the more prevalent the bias. And, not surprisingly, the more an overweight person experiences this prejudice, the less likely they are to exercise.
There is now such a gross misunderstanding of the weight loss process (perpetuated by weight loss machine marketing moguls) that few people have even a basic understanding that they can, in fact, boost their metabolism and they can, in fact, lose weight and keep it off.
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Sally Symonds is the author of “50 Steps to Lose 50kg . . . And Keep It Off” and “50 Ways to Weight Loss Motivation”. A qualified personal trainer, NLP practitioner and wellness coach, she is also one of the world’s most successful weight loss candidates, having lost over 50% of her original body weight and kept that weight off for a decade. See http://www.sallysymonds.com.au for furher information.