Study suggests women pressured to lose weight have more trouble staying fit

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DENVER — The weight-loss world is full of New Year’s resolutions, boot camps and restrictive “cleanses.” But could a message of acceptance actually be the best way to help women lose weight?

That’s a what a recent study published in the journal Personal Relationships suggests. In a sample of 187 college-age Canadian women, researchers asked whether the subjects had discussed weight loss with their friends, romantic partners and families, and what they perceived the tone of those conversations to be.

Over the nine-month study period, the women gained a small amount of weight, on average. But there seemed to be a distinction between the women who felt supported and those who didn’t.

Women who were already concerned about their weight when the study began, who also felt that they were being pressured to lose weight by their loved ones, gained the most weight. But women who reported hearing “acceptance messages” about their weight tended to gain less weight, or even lose weight, the study found.

Receiving unconditional acceptance might have lowered their stress, a known cause of weight gain, one researcher suggested.

“We all know someone who points out our weight gain or offers to help us lose weight.” said Professor Christine Logel of the University of Waterloo, which conducted the study. “These results suggest that these comments are misguided.”

The study is far from conclusive. Researchers were obviously not able to observe the women’s interactions with loved ones — only their perceptions of those interactions after the fact. And the study did not attempt to report which methods the subjects were using in an attempt to lose weight, or if they were trying to at all.

However, the study does seem to echo previous research in suggesting that acceptance, not aggressive encouragement, may be the key to losing weight.

Read more at The Atlantic.

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