ISLAMABAD: Believing or knowing you are overweight can become a vicious cycle - because the stress of it can cause overeating and weight gain
You might think that being weight conscious is the best way to stay in shape.
But being aware of those few extra pounds could do more harm than good, new research suggests.
Scientists found people who believe they are overweight or obese are more likely to pile on the pounds than those unaware they are bigger than they should be.
This was because those who identified themselves as being ‘overweight’ were more likely to overeat as a stress response to it - therefore leading to weight gain.
Study co-author Dr Eric Robinson, of the University of Liverpool, said:' Realising you are an overweight individual is in itself likely to be quite stressful and make making healthy choices in your lifestyle more difficult.'
The findings also highlighted the difficulty public health organisations face when trying to help people lose weight.
He said: 'You would hope that making a person aware they are overweight would result in them being more likely to adopt a healthier lifestyle and lose some weight.
'What is important is to tackle stigma in society. People with a heavier body weight have body image challenges. That is not surprising given the way we talk about weight as a society.
'But the way we talk about body weight and the way we portray overweight and obesity in society is something we can think about and reconsider. '
He added they key was to encourage people to make lifestyle changes that don’t portray being overweight 'as a terrible thing'.
In the study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers looked at the lives of 14,000 adults in the US and the UK through data captured in three studies.
They analysed data from time periods after children in the studies had reached adulthood to find out their perception of their own weight – whether or not it was correct – and their subsequent weight gain over time.
The UK study followed participants from 23 until 45, but the other two studies had shorter follow-up periods, of seven years and nine to 10 years.
Paradoxically, those who believed they were overweight became stressed about it - eating more and gaining weight.
In fact, scientists found that people who believe they are overweight or obese are more likely to pile on the pounds than those unaware they may be heavier their ideal weight