Health gurus continuously admonish you to cut calories and exercise more, as they point fingers at this and that, while debating the REAL causes of the obesity epidemic.
The world is obsessed with weight and weight watching is akin to checking your smartphone for incoming mail.
Well this is the assumption at least, but for many, the extra pounds quite literally manage to creep on. The extra 2 or 3 kgs, signs of a looming weight problem, are somehow missed, during the daily preening sessions in the mirror.
Do I look fat ?
Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch discovered it is not uncommon, for young women to genuinely not notice they’re getting fat.
The team studied the weight fluctuations – real and perceived, in a group of 466 women in their twenties. The women were assessed at 6 monthly intervals over a 3 year period.
We don’t notice we’re getting fat
The stats were quite sobering.
Weights did climb, some slowly, some rather precipitously – during one or more of the 6 month intervals assessed.
- 44 % of the women put on a kilogram
- 30 % put on 2 kilos
- 19 % put on 3 kilos
- 12 % put on 4 kilos
- 8 % put on 5 kilos
So who noticed ?
- 59 % of those gaining a kilo noticed
- 67 % of those gaining 2 kilos noticed
- 73 % of those gaining 3 kilos noticed
- 78 % of those gaining 4 kilos noticed
- 85 % of those gaining 5 kilos noticed
Not counting leaves you clueless
I’m not sure alarm bells should ring, if you gain/lose a kilo in 6 months, this can typically represent water accumulation etc. rather than actual fat mass. But when the number is inching beyond 3 kilograms, you’re definitely not just in the expanding hip club, you’ve moved into the expanding waist club too.
The frightening stat, 15 % – 27 % of people who managed to pile on significant pounds, in a six month period, didn’t have a clue.
The researchers tried to establish who was dialled into weight gains and who was blissfully unaware of their impending heffa-lump status.
Weight consciousness influenced by contraceptive choice
The women included in this study were drawn from a variety of ethic backgrounds. All women were working on avoiding putting on a ton of weight due to them having a little “bun in the oven” i.e. they were all taking some kind of contraceptive pill. The exact choice of contraceptive method varied.
Weight perceptions showed differences across different ethnic/race groups – with the black women in the sample being more dialled into weight gain than white women. These differences probably reflect factors specific to these communities.
What was more interesting was that the choice of hormonal contraceptive, had a big impact on the ability of women to “notice” weight gains. The women who were particularly tuned into weight fluctuations were those using depot medroxyprogesterone (DMPA). The reason this contraceptive was able to evoke a weight consciousness, is probably because it comes with a bit of a black box warning – it is associated with weight gain. Women using this contraceptive had been sensitized to the idea, that they could end up packing on pounds, so they were paying attention.
Don’t be caught napping
Weight gain, especially rapid weight gain in a very short period, is ultimately going to cost you.
Weight gain is a sign of bad body chemistry, it is this bad body chemistry that brings the health risks.
Be tuned in
Catching the “trouble” early, makes dealing with it much easier. The effort to get rid of a kilo or two, is significantly less than the effort to burn off layers of superfluous fat.
So make the commitment to weigh and measure yourself on a monthly basis. Keep an eye on the scale – make sure the number is stable not drifting upward.Self-Perception of Weight Gain Among Multiethnic Reproductive-Age Women. Journal of Women’s Health (2012) 21(3):340-346. Mahbubur Rahman, Abbey B. Berenson
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