The Psychological Impact of Weight Concerns Differs Between the Sexes
WebMD News Archive
"These are very important findings, but we need to be very careful how
we interpret them," David B. Sarwer, PhD, director of education at the
weight and eating disorder program at the University of Pennsylvania School of
Medicine in Philadelphia, tells WebMD.
"We don't want to fall into the stereotype trap that obesity causes
depression. ... Rather, I think we can interpret [the results] as saying that
in a society that puts such a premium on being thin, and equates thinness with
beauty and success, it is very difficult to be an obese individual. Walking
around in such a society may contribute to things like [clinical] depression
and suicidal ideation. Being obese can take an emotional toll," says
Sarwer, who was not involved in the study.
Linda Korman, MD, a family physician who specializes in weight management,
says, "It's exactly what I've seen in my medical practice. Depression is
very common in obese women. I feel that depression has a lot to do with the
expectations society has of women -- our society is so driven by thinness for
women. ... Women must learn to strive to have a healthier body weight, not just
an ideal weight." Korman is also affiliated with the Robert Wood Johnson
School of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New
"I also feel there's such a prejudice against obese individuals. ... Do
we poke fun at people with diabetes or cancer? Of course not. So why can we be
allowed to make fun of obese individuals? We have to bring obesity into the
realm of a medical disorder," says Korman.