Navigation Links
Labeling obesity as a disease may have psychological costs
Date:1/28/2014

Messages that describe obesity as a disease may undermine healthy behaviors and beliefs among obese individuals, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The findings show that obese individuals exposed to such messages placed less importance on health-focused dieting and reported less concern about weight. These beliefs, in turn, predicted unhealthier food choices.

Psychological scientists Crystal Hoyt and Jeni Burnette of the University of Richmond and Lisa Auster-Gussman of the University of Minnesota were interested in exploring the effects of health and diet messaging after the American Medical Association (AMA) declared obesity a disease in June 2013.

"Considering that obesity is a crucial public-health issue, a more nuanced understanding of the impact of an 'obesity is a disease' message has significant implications for patient-level and policy-level outcomes," says Hoyt. "Experts have been debating the merits of, and problems with, the AMA policy we wanted to contribute to the conversation by bringing data rather than speculation and by focusing on the psychological repercussions."

Hoyt and colleagues hypothesized that labeling obesity as a disease could encourage the belief that weight is unchangeable and make attempts at weight management seem pointless, especially among obese individuals the very people that the public-health messages are targeting.

The researchers recruited over 700 participants to take part in an online survey across three different studies. Participants read an article related to health and weight and then answered various questions. Importantly, some participants read an article that described obesity as a disease, some read a standard public-health message about weight, and others read an article specifically stating that obesity is not a disease.

Height and weight data were used to calculate participants' body mass index and to classify participants as "average weight" or "obese," in line with World Health Organization guidelines.

Results showed that the particular message obese participants read had a clear impact on their attitudes toward health, diet, and weight.

Specifically, obese participants who read the "obesity is a disease" article placed less importance on health-focused dieting and reported less concern for weight relative to obese participants who read the other two articles. They also chose higher-calorie options when asked to pick a sandwich from a provided menu.

Interestingly, these participants reported greater body satisfaction, which, in turn, also predicted higher-calorie food choices.

"Together, these findings suggest that the messages individuals hear about the nature of obesity have self-regulatory consequences," says Hoyt. The researchers point out that there may be benefits to the disease-focused message, such as promoting greater acceptance of diverse body sizes and reducing stigma, which may help obese individuals engage with health- and weight-related goals.

The new findings indicate, however, that there may be some hidden costs to the "obesity is a disease" message, including less motivation to eat healthy.

Hoyt and colleagues caution that more research is needed to gain a clearer understanding of both the costs and benefits of such health-related messaging before the findings can be put into practice.

"In our ongoing work, we hope to gain a greater understanding of how the 'obesity is a disease' message influences beliefs about the controllability of weight," says Hoyt. "In addition, we are also interested in investigating the role of this message in reducing stigma against the obese."

The researchers hope that their work "sparks further discussion and inquiry by researchers and practitioners alike."


'/>"/>
Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Integrative Nutrition Donates $117,000 in Support of GMO Labeling
2. Corporate Whistleblower Center Points to Recent Drug Settlement for Off-Labeling as Lucrative Way For Pharma Reps to Retire Early
3. Novation Extends PDC Healthcare's Agreement for Labeling Products
4. Serigne Gueye Ndiaye Comments on New Sunscreen Labeling
5. Corporate Whistle Blower Center Now Urges Drug Maker Insiders To Call Them About Huge Rewards If They Can Prove Kickback, Price Fixing Schemes, Or Off Labeling Schemes
6. U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to New Cigarette Labeling
7. Richard W. Schulte of Wright & Schulte LLC: a Tireless Fighter for Victims of Generic Drug Labeling Practices
8. U.S. Abandons Effort to Place Graphic Labeling on Cigarettes
9. Consumers View Foods With Green Labeling as Healthier: Study
10. Pictures Speak Louder Than Words on Cigarette Labeling
11. Inconsistency Seen in Safety Labeling for Generic Drugs
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Global Healthcare Management’s ... Alexandria Park in Milford, NJ. This free event, sponsored by Global Healthcare Management’s ... The fun run is geared towards children of all ages; it is a ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 2017 , ... “The Journey: From the Mountains to the Mission Field”: the ... in the Philippines. “The Journey: From the Mountains to the Mission Field” is the ... She has taught all ages and currently teaches a class of ladies at her ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... , ... Planet Fitness, one of the largest and fastest growing franchisors and ... flagship location in Covington, LA at 401 N. U.S. Highway 190, in January of ... Depot in the Holiday Square shopping center. Its location allows it to serve both ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Asante, a nationally ... care, have expanded their existing home health joint venture through an agreement, effective ... operating a joint venture home health company with Asante, delivering clinically integrated care, ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Leading pediatric oncology experts at Children’s National ... 49th Congress of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) Oct. 12-15. ... for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s National, and Stephen P. Hunger, M.D., ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/2/2017)...  AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, the combined central specialty pharmacy ... benefit manager Prime Therapeutics LLC (Prime), today officially began ... unveiling of new signage at its headquarters in ... a few other company-owned facilities across the country. This ... of whom will begin to see the AllianceRx Walgreens ...
(Date:9/27/2017)... MIAMI , Sept. 27, 2017  Commended for their ... recent notable awards. Ranked as number one in the South ... ninth time in Inc. 5000 yearly list, the national specialty ... CEO, Armando Bardisa will soon be honored by ... Set to receive his award ...
(Date:9/22/2017)... 22, 2017  As the latest Obamacare repeal effort ... Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) ... medical device industry is in an odd place.  The ... 2.3% excise tax on medical device sales passed along ... covered patients, increased visits and hospital customers with the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: