Most Americans will wage a personal battle of the bulge at some point in their lives. They may in fact struggle with weight off and on for the majority of their adult years. When the fear of weight becomes extremely strong therapists refer to it as Obesophobia. For those who have this fear they must deal with internal pressures that often come from outside influence. The end result is often eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia. In some cases this fear can slowly kill.
What Causes Obesophobia
We’ll start with the easiest target I suppose. Hollywood has an unnatural attraction to ‘thin’. The media produces examples of feminine beauty that is not typical and almost impossible to attain. Young girls are especially caught up in the perfection of Hollywood’s dream girls. They may not even realize most of these young ladies have to go through incredible training to remain as thin as they are and most require a lot of makeup.
What happens to many girls is they feel as if they must adopt the visual standard of perfection and weight becomes the enemy. If the ‘popular girls’ in school are skinny and believe thin is important then most of the other girls will follow their lead.
For the young lady who may struggle socially it becomes a constant push to keep the weight down in an effort to feel accepted. This is where the fear of weight gain often happens with children. It typically starts in the pre-teen years and can continue long into adulthood.
Some will begin to fear weight gain following negative words from their parents. The suggestion may be to lighten up on the food or snacks or a casual comment about perceived weight gain. This can immerse a child into actions that are unhealthy and potentially dangerous.
Some may see a parent who is overweight and privately declare they will never be like that parent. Their determination to hold their weight down becomes an obsessive fear of weight.
A parent may die because of complications from weight. This scenario can also place a child (even if that child is an adult) into a place of fear because they do not want to be in the same predicament.
If the child can deal with this with a healthy plan of action it may be a positive thing. However, most will obsess about it until it becomes a full blown phobia.
Symptoms of Obesophobia
A person who fears weight gain will likely refuse to eat with friends or resist until they place the individual in a a situation where they are embarrassed. While they may eat lightly the fear may find them slipping away to the restroom and forcing themselves to empty the contents of their stomach into the toilet.
While the sight of food itself may not cause them panic there may be other symptoms that show up.
- An obsession with weight
- An obsession with weight loss techniques
- The feeling they have always eaten too much
- Denial of hunger
- The inability to see themselves as anything other than fat
- Panic if they believe they’ve eaten too much
How to Overcome Obesophobia
Overcoming the fear will almost always require intervention and therapy. Followed to its logical conclusion this fear will result in the starvation of the individual living with this fear.
A support group will be essential for long term recovery.
You do need to know that if you suffer from this fear you are among many who struggle with the proper role of food in a healthy lifestyle. You can overcome it. The first step is always the hardest – admitting there is a problem.