Overweight And Mental Health

There’s a physical emphasis on the problems being overweight can cause. In other words, the warnings about excess body weight are usually warnings about physical risks. It’s a sensible approach: there are numerous physical risks to being overweight, including risks to the heart, the entire circulatory system, the digestive system, and other regions of the body as well.

An aspect that’s often overlooked when considering overweight risks, however, are emotional risk factors. Overweight people often deal with acute psychological burdens, which typically are presented in a couple of different ways: through personal interaction, or through self-assessment. From a perspective of personal interaction, being overweight is frequently an invitation to criticism. This reality can be especially painful for overweight children. Children are often overly frank and even cruel in their criticisms. A child who is overweight can be bombarded with insults and verbal assaults by peers because of their body type. And the belief that emotional hurt that occurs during childhood isn’t particularly significant as time passes is not necessarily true. Adults who were overweight children can be exceptionally sensitive, frequently as a result of having been harassed as children by their peers.

It’s not only overweight children who are criticized, however. Adults can nag and harass and even insult other adults who are overweight. In fairness, adult criticism directed towards other adults who are overweight is often expressed from concern. The reality is that being overweight is a very effective method for shortening life span. Because they don’t want to see people they care for die or become ill, adults can make inquiries of overweight acquaintances. These inquiries can feel like harassment though if they’re delivered in an abrupt way or come often.

The self-assessment of an overweight person can be even harsher than the external criticism they may receive. Western societies particularly have a biases against fat people. The thinking often goes that overweight people are unattractive and/or lazy and undisciplined. People who are overweight are not immune to this perception. In fact, overweight people are often extremely unkind to themselves and flagellate themselves over their body image. Though understandable, this type of verbal assault against oneself rarely results in a positive outcome. A more likely outcome from harsh self-criticism is depression and an even worse sense of self-esteem.

None of this is to suggest that an individual should lose weight to please another person, or to please society. Weight loss should come about because an individual wants to do it first and foremost for him or herself. This is inner motivation, and inner motivation lasts.