Positive Body Image Can Help And Hurt

Body image is one of the biggest challenges women face on a daily basis, and it deeply affects how we handle our weight. Many medical experts see a positive body image as one of the keys to good physical and mental health, while others have identified unexpected drawbacks to this kind of satisfaction.

A Temple University study, led by a clinical psychologist, identified young women who feared quitting smoking would cause weight gain and then divided them into two groups: a supervised exercise program and body-image group counseling. After two months, the body-image group saw not only twice as many women quit smoking than the exercise group, but also three times the weight loss.

A separate Temple study-this one led by an OBGYN professor-came to a far less encouraging conclusion. When overweight and obese women were shown silhouettes representing a range of BMIs, the majority underestimated which most closely matched their own. Additionally, 20% chose an overweight or obese silhouette as their ideal body, reflecting a confidence that could undermine their health.

"Informing our patients about the dangers of obesity, even when they feel they're not at risk, can help empower them to change their lifestyles and lead healthier lives," said researcher Marisa Rose, MD.

Loving how you look is great state of mind, but it may not be a safe one if you're ignoring the serious side effects of carrying too much weight. Talk to a physician about the ideal weight range for your height, not just to improve your appearance, but to improve your health.

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