Researchers have found that normal-weight teens who think they are fat are more likely to grow up to be fat.
“Perceiving themselves as fat even though they are not may actually cause normal-weight children to become overweight as adults,” said Koenraad Cuypers, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Cuypers and his colleagues at the Department of Public Health and General Practice in NTNU’s Faculty of Medicine examined the obesity problem from a new angle: Their research looked at the relationship between perceived weights and actual weights in a study of teenagers and young adults.
The researchers note there are many reasons why teens who think they are fat — even when they are not — become overweight as adults.
One explanation may be related to psychosocial stress, which can be associated with gaining weight around the waist, the researchers said.
“Another explanation may be that young people who see themselves as fat often change their eating habits by skipping meals, for example. Research has shown that dropping breakfast can lead to obesity,” Cuypers said, adding that following a diet that you cannot maintain over time also is counterproductive, since the body strives to maintain the weight you had before you started the diet.