Adiposity More Dangerous for Women than Men?

By Marsha Hudnall on 08/09/2006
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Male_female First of all, I’m using the word ‘adiposity’ in the title of this post because I recently learned that adiposity is a more accurate term than obesity to describe a state of fatness.  The root of the word obesity actually refers to runaway eating, which as we know, is not the reason for fatness in many of us.  Further, according to some experts involved in a discussion of this on a listserv to which I belong, obesity implies a disease state, again something that’s just not the case for all fat folks.  I can’t seem to avoid using the term in the discussion below – I tried, and it gets unwieldy.  But I do recognize that I used another sensitive term above – fat.  While it’s a word many of us react to, ‘fat’ is becoming more politically correct as fat activists encourage fat pride.  It can get really tricky navigating these words.

But that’s not the point of today’s post (although maybe a good subject to discuss more at another time).  Did you hear about the recent study that found ‘overweight’ (greater than 25 BMI) and ‘obesity’ (greater than 30 BMI) affected women’s health more negatively than men’s? Using quality of life measures, researchers found that ‘overweight’ costs U.S. women 1.8 million years of perfect health compared to just 270,000 years lost for men.  The ‘cost’ of ‘obesity’ was even greater.  The reason suggested for the impact on health and difference between genders was weight stigma – that it has a negative impact on health and that it’s worse for women than for men.  Okay, so that’s not really big news.  But it caught my attention because it suggests the opposite – that feeling good about ourselves can contribute to health and well-being, independent of our body size. 

The researchers also said their findings provide evidence that “the message that women are getting in the mass media about their weight is actually more harmful than we previously thought.”  Because this was published by the media, think they’ll take notice?  We can always hope.

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