Sunday, March 16, 2008

Anxiety from being weighed causing health problems?  


I came across a really interesting article in Science Daily that explores the health risks that public weighing may be causing in women. Some are speculating that because being weighed in a doctor's office can be embarassing for many women, they are skipping necessary visits to the doctor and therefore are increasing the possibility of having health complications.

Study participants rated discomfort levels over a variety of weight related scenarios. The more dissatisfied a female was with her weight, the greater the discomfort she experienced when being weighed. But even the very concept of weight, tested by assigning some participants to wear a badge bearing the single word, "Weight," caused elevated levels of discomfort because it drew unwanted attention to what is considered an unflattering personal attribute for women.

I suppose it is possible that some women are avoiding the doctor because of embarassment. It's interesting to explore the health risks caused by weighing-in, but I think more important is to study the emotional effects of forcing women to step on the scale. I had a friend who developed a minor eating disorder because her doctor told her she was too heavy (since when is 135 pounds "too heavy"?) Additionally, there's the appalling fact that schools are requiring students to be weighed in gym classes. All four years of high school, I was forced to take a body fat test in my gym class. It was humiliating, and of course I was completely happy with my body until I saw that stupid little number. Actually, maybe it wasn't so much the number itself, but all the girls comparing their body fat percentages to each other after the test was over. I think someone needs to look into changing that policy.


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7 comments: to “ Anxiety from being weighed causing health problems?

  • March 16, 2008 at 8:35 PM  

    hello..nice to meet you..thank to participate in my blog..your blog is great..i like to read about you read emma goldman books?

  • March 16, 2008 at 8:36 PM  

    Thanks! I haven't read any Emma Goldman books, but I'm sure I will at some point in my college career, being a women's studies major and all.

  • March 16, 2008 at 10:29 PM  

    I'm glad you mentioned the humiliation that comes with gym classes in schools. I may have told you the story about the one time in gym when my teacher singled out only two girls out of the whole class who she didn't think could achieve a certain amount of push ups.

    The two girls? An extremely obese girl, and myself. As someone who knows me, I'm pretty sure you could support the statement that I am nowhere near being extremely obese.

    The point is, that one statement totally messed with my 15 year old self esteem, which wasn't that great to begin with.

    Honestly I completely lost the point I was trying to make. I think I'm basically saying that "Physical Education" needs LOTS of reform.

  • March 16, 2008 at 10:34 PM  

    I agree. I really think that gym class is a major cause of low self-esteem in teenagers. It's sad that schools don't seem to realize this.

  • March 21, 2008 at 12:18 AM  

    I probably shouldn't get started on all of my issues with the public school phys ed system, but let's just say that it is ridiculously insensitive and stupid. In what other class do they test you on things that you don't practice? In what other class are such things as genetic predispositions going to screw you over that badly (I come from a family with short muscles - have never been able to touch my toes, no matter how good a shape I'm in)?

    Also, the gym teachers who test your body-fat percentage with those stupid calipers that leave bruises, in front of the rest of the class? Totally should be smacked. I mean, seriously!

    Sorry for the rant, I and my sisters have had seriously bad experiences with the public school phys ed stupidity.

  • March 21, 2008 at 1:11 AM  

    Oh, please, Stacia, don't apologize for ranting. I completely agree. I'm so appalled by physical education. It humiliates kids, making those who are not "naturally athletic" to feel inferior and gives the "jocks" another chance to show off. At least that has been my experience. Phys Ed is so unbelievably flawed. And I really wish that schools would understand that.

  • March 25, 2008 at 12:59 PM  

    It's true, Amy. I don't think that the administrations want to know the problems, though. I mean, the idea behind phys ed is to help kids who don't otherwise exercise be less out of shape. That's not a bad idea. It's just done terribly.

    My high school did, by my senior year, add some "elective" gym classes - ballroom dance, archery & golf (wtf? weird combination), etc. - but they were hard to get into, and if you didn't, you were stuck in the generic gym class. Which, therefore, became more full of jocks & athletes - the people who didn't want to take the "cushy" gym classes.

    Oh, and the fact that the teachers still take a day weighing kids - but not in another room, just in the front of the gym, while everyone else sits around and talks and stares at them - should honestly be illegal.

    The whole system needs to be restarted, preferably replanned by someone with a vague modicum of sensitivity.