Monday, March 3, 2008

Skinny = Cool, or Cool = Skinny?

Some Harvard doctors have done an interesting study associating weight gain during adolescence with perceived popularity. Girls who report themselves as a 4 or greater on a 1-10 ranking scale of social standing in their school are 70% less likely to have their BMI go up, or to gain weight disproportional to their developmental growth. Girls who ranked themselves below a 4 were likely to gain excess weight. Why?

The study made allowances for family history, mother's weight, income, television viewing habits, and of course diet. But these other factors couldn't account for a strong connection between a girl's weight and her social status. The experiment has done a lot to disprove the myth that it is because a girl is overweight that she is unpopular. The contrary seems far more likely! Girls who are more socially active and involved are less likely to gain excess weight!

The doctors who are responsible for the research encouraged parents who are concerned about their daughter's weight to not only push a healthy, balanced diet, and exercise. But stressed the importance of devoting time to friends, social activities, team sports and other group based extracurriculars.

This makes perfect sense to me! Girls that "belong" socially will be happier about themselves, which means they will have lower stress, fear, anxiety and depression, all of which are known to offset hormonal balances that trigger hunger, "emotional" eating, and weight gain. Everyone knows that "misery loves company", and "company" to a lonely person is usually food!

Weight gain is such a difficult social issue; a very emotional issue to young ladies, especially. I do believe that frustration about weight can lead to frustration in your social life, but that it is usually self-inflicted. Everyone can relate with wanting to lose some weight, and should seek help and support from friends in a quest to become more healthy!

I liked these articles on the subject:
Natural Weight Loss
Building Your Network
Sharing is Achieving