Sydney, Feb 4: Overweight? Just don't think about it because feeling bad about being fat could lead to more health problems than actually being fat.
Researchers from the US conducted a study and found that the more dissatisfied a person is with his or her weight, the more unhealthy he or she becomes. ''The obesity 'epidemic' might have a lot more to do with our collective preoccupation with obesity than obesity itself,'' said the study's lead author, Dr Peter Muennig of Columbia University in New York City.
The researchers studied more than 170,000 US adults and found the difference between actual weight and perceived ideal weight was a better indicator of mental and physical health than body mass index (BMI).
Some researchers have suggested that stress due to stigmatisation could be a factor in the health problems obese people have, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, Dr Muennig and his colleagues note in the American Journal of Public Health.
To investigate, they examined data of people participating in a study of behavioural risk factors. All had reported their actual weight, perceived ideal weight, and the number of days in the past 30 days when they felt that their physical or mental health was not good.
When the researchers used statistical techniques to control for the influence of age and body mass index, they found that the more dissatisfied a person was with his or her weight, the more ''bad days'' he or she had. The relationship was strongest in non-Hispanic whites and women, the Daily Telegraph reported.
It was found people who felt they had to lose just one per cent of their body weight had 0.1 more unhealthy days a month than those who thought their weight was ideal. But women who wanted to lose 10 per cent of their body weight reported 1.6 healthy days a month, and those who wanted to pare off 20 per cent reported 4.3 unhealthy days.