Anti-Fat Messages Can Be Bad for You, Villanova Professor Says

Janell L. Mensinger.
Image via submitted photo.
Janell L. Mensinger, associate professor at Villanova's M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.

Medical obsession over obesity can actually do more harm than good, according to research from Janell L. Mensinger, associate professor at Villanova University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.

Focusing on obesity and Body Mass Index measures can ultimately add pounds and lead to eating disorders, worse health and body dissatisfaction, writes Sandy Bauers for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The research was published in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Obesity implies there’s disease, but one-third of people classified obese have nothing wrong with them—no high blood pressure or cholesterol, she said.

At the same time, 25% of people with a “normal” BMI have problems that are overlooked, Mensinger said.

“Everyone thinks that if they lose weight, they are going to have long-term health gains,” she said. “We just don’t have the data.”

The 30 or more years of focusing on obesity has not brought long-term success in lowering BMI.

 “To tell a person they have a BMI that’s over the healthy range and not have a way to solve it is a really bad anti-obesity message,” she said.

A better approach is to decouple weight loss from health. Instead, talk to patients about their health behaviors and well-being.

Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer about moving away from the war on obesity.

Sarah Bramblette talks about obesity bias in her 2015 TED talk.

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