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Everyone Lies (About their Weight) continued...

This may well contribute to the rising rates of obesity. "We are not as sensitive as we think to changes in our weight," he says.

How can we cut through the fog? For starters, weigh yourself on a regular basis. You can also tell if you are gaining or losing weight by how your clothes fit.

"Don't wear stretch clothes," he says. "Put aside some [healthy weight] clothing and wear it once a week to see if it is getting tight."

If the numbers start to climb and your jeans are starting to feel snug, it may be time to make some changes.

Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, says the study's main implications have to do with public health surveillance. "When we are gathering data on the health of the nation, we need to take these discrepancies into account." Kahan is the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, D.C.

"Some people may deliberately underreport their weight, others may not weigh themselves, so they don't realize that their weight has crept up," he says. But "a few pounds here or there can add up."

Weight and weight gain is a highly charged emotional issue. "There is no benefit of being in your face and overly honest in hopes of shaming someone into losing weight," he says. This doesn't mean you should lie if someone asks you if they look like they have put on weight. "You can tell the truth in a way that is productive and loving. Say 'I find it hard to manage my weight. I think you look wonderful, but maybe we can start a walking program together.'"

Joseph Colella, MD, is a weight loss surgeon at Magee-Womens Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He tells WebMD that this type of denial also affects people who are already obese.

"Many patients who see me for surgery don't think they have health problems just because they are obese," he says. In these cases, the denial is about their health status, not their weight per se, but it is just as dangerous. "If you don't know you have diabetes or high blood pressure, you are not going to seek treatment which puts you at a much higher risk for heart attack and stroke."

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