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Invisible weight – ‘the fattening of America’

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A new report from the University of Texas Medical Branch finds that almost a quarter of obese women in America misperceive their own body weight.

Researchers from the University believe their study reveals the normalisation of obesity in the United States, reports Science Daily.

“What we found reflects the ‘fattening of America,” said Dr Mahbubar Rahman, “As obesity numbers climb,  many women identify overweight as normal.”

More than half of women of reproductive age in the United States are considered overweight under the Body Mass Index or BMI standard.

The proportion increases within minority ethnic groups such as Hispanic and African Americans, both of whom were also more likely to misperceive their weight as normal.

It makes sense to me that in a culture where obesity is widespread, people begin to view being overweight as the norm.

But I think this is also true of being underweight, where culturally we now assume that anorexic models are ‘the norm’ in the fashion world, and where the sight of seriously underweight young women on our streets and in our schools and colleges is also becoming commonplace.

What this study points to is the increasingly distant relationship with food and with our own bodies that is now standard in the West.

In a fast-food, packaged-food, cheap-food-over-good-food culture, we have lost a sense of ourselves as physical beings, and in so doing have brought about a new generation of entirely self-created disease and illness.

This seems to me not only to be linked with obesity, but also with other forms of eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, and even with the increasing levels of body dysmorphia that underpin the huge and still growing plastic surgery industry.

We have a profound, and dangerous fascination with our appearances, but also a growing sense of ourselves as ugly. Perhaps we could all do with taking a long hard look in the mirror and asking ourselves what it is we really see there.

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