Health & FitnessScience

Born fat? Thinking so could get you there

Believing your weight is outside of your control could lead you to pack on the pounds, make unhealthy food choices and decrease your quality of life, according to a new study.

"If an individual believes weight to be outside of the influence of diet and exercise, she or he may engage in more behaviors that are rewarding in the short term, such as eating unhealthful foods and avoiding exercise, rather than healthful behaviors with more long-term benefits for weight management," wrote study authors Dr. Mike C. Parent and Dr. Jessica L. Alquist of Texas Tech University.
Working with data from 4,166 men and 4,655 women, the researchers found that the belief that weight is unchangeable comes with age — and unhealthy eating.
As people age, they are less likely to read food nutrition labels and increasingly shun fruits, vegetables and exercise for ready-to-eat frozen meals, according to the study, "Born Fat," published in the journal Health Education and Behavior.
"Although previous research has found gender differences in weight as a motivation for exercise and healthful eating, we did not find evidence that gender affected the relationship between health beliefs and physical activity or healthful eating," write the authors.
"However, we found evidence that the relationship between belief in weight changeability and exercise, healthful eating, and unhealthful eating differs by age."
As new research rolls in about the role of gut bacteria in body weight and that of energy-burning brown fat in metabolism, solutions to obesity could be around the corner, whether or not body weight is determined by DNA.
In the meantime, Parent and Alquist's study supports a 2014 study conducted at the University of Kent, which suggests that emphasizing well-being could be more important for health than honing in on an ideal body weight.
Making good food choices, exercising and taking the time to cook bypasses the harmful effects of yo-yo dieting and decreases one's likelihood to develop eating disorders, say the researchers, whose study was published in the Journal of Obesity.
"By fighting the perception that weight is unchangeable, health care providers may be able to increase healthful behaviors among their patients," write Parent and Alquist.

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