Despite the fact that obesity rates are on the rise in the U.S., many women, in particular, often think their weight is healthy even when it's not.One's weight could be a deadly error, leading women to continue to eat poorly, gain more weight and eventually develop the complications of obesity, including diabetes and hypertension.
Reports show that almost 1 in 4 overweight women of child-bearing age don't believe they're overweight, or at least not to a degree that is dangerous. On the other hand, 16 percent of normal weight women also misperceive their body weight, often leading them to pursue dangerous and unnecessary dieting habits.
Most are not surprised by the reports because as the nation's obesity rate grows, it becomes more socially acceptable to be overweight and the truth can become more obscured. The main problem is people compare themselves to those closest to them and if they are smaller in size then they believe they are healthy.
Studies show that cultural differences also play a role in women being overweight. More than 80 percent of African American women and 75 percent of Hispanic women meet the standards for being overweight or obese, women in these ethnic categories were less likely than Caucasian women to see themselves as overweight.
Physicians need to be more proactive when talking to female patients about their weight and how it impacts their health. And the issue goes both ways: while overweight women who don't address their weight issues are putting themselves at risk of heart disease and diabetes, women of normal weight who think they are fat may be engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, binge eating, purging and crash dieting to curb weight gain.
One of the main problems is that doctors are so busy they may not feel they have sufficent time during normal check-ups to talk to patients about weight. And many physicians worry about offending their patients. It's important that we see this as a medical condition.