By: Christine Saleeb
Society is losing sight of what a healthy weight actually looks like. There is an increasing ambiguity in society of what is considered normal weight, overweight and obese. There seems to be an underestimation in body size . Those in the ‘overweight’ category (BMI of 25.0-29.9) perceive themselves to be ‘normal weight’  and those who are medically considered obese perceive themselves to be overweight. Why is it that only those who are severely obese (BMI >40.0) are considered obese and in need of medical intervention ? One American study demonstrated that 56% of overweight women and 40% of obese women (BMI> 30) did not classify themselves as per their medical standards, but labeled themselves as ‘normal’ . In fact, even in Canada, youth are subject to this perceptual shift. Adolescent girls, especially the obese and overweight, were more likely to underreport their own weight and BMI . One potential reason for this underrepresentation could be because of the self-serving bias, which is a bias that claims people tend to protect their self-esteem by attributing their flaws to external threats. Therefore, they under-label themselves as normal and pretend that nothing is wrong, disregarding the thought that they are unhealthy [4,5]. Another plausible reason may be that people succumb to their cultural norms. In the African-American culture, for example, there may not be as much social pressure to be thin, and so, overweight women may actually perceive themselves to be a normal body weight . Finally, they may perceive themselves or others as normal weight because of how the fat is distributed in the body . Overall, society is not noticing as people grow larger, and thus a larger body size has become the norm.
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