Many Would Rather Be Anything but Obese
May 23, 2006 -- -- What would you be willing to sacrifice if it ensured you would never be fat?
Would you give up a year of your life? Or 10 years?
Would you rather be divorced, unable to have children, depressed, alcoholic?
A disturbing new study out of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found that nearly half -- 46 percent -- of 4,283 participants would rather give up a year of their life than be obese. Fifteen percent were willing to give up 10 years.
In fact, a surprisingly large number of participants were willing to make extreme sacrifices if they could be sure they would never be obese.
These are hypothetical questions, of course, and the answers are not set in stone. Obesity is a killer, so some participants probably figured that they were going to die earlier anyway if they were obese, but what surprised the researchers was the number of people who were willing to make extreme sacrifices.
"The percentages of people willing to make extreme sacrifices were much lower," said psychologist Marlene Schwartz, associate director of the center and lead author in a report in the journal Obesity. "But what struck me was given how big our sample size was, there's still a significant number of people who would give up a lot in order not to be obese."
More than 600 persons, for example, were willing to give up 10 years of their life. And, 342 said they would rather have a learning-disabled child than an obese child.
The findings show the enormous stigma placed on being fat, and that, Schwartz says, is one of the major reasons why some people just can't take it off.
One part of the online study examined subconscious attitudes toward obesity and found that across the board, regardless of age or body weight of the participants, "individuals more strongly associated fat people with bad and thin people with good," the report said.
Fat people are seen as lazy and unwilling to try hard enough to lose weight.
That, Schwartz says, is a big part of the problem. Even overweight participants in the study thought poorly of themselves, and once that level of self-condemnation is reached, it becomes nearly impossible to lose weight.