Women & Food: Food Addiction Label Increases Stigma For Obese Individuals, Study Finds

Women & Food: Food Addiction Label Increases Stigma For Obese Individuals, Study Finds

Women’s News: What I Know About Fear Now That I’m In My 60s

Women’s News: What I Know About Fear Now That I’m In My 60s

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

inspirational quotes (237)

Women’s News: What I Know About Fear Now That I’m In My 60s


Ann Brenoff

Senior Writer, The Huffington Post

One of my earliest memories is of a hot summer night in Mineola, Long Island, when I was maybe four or five years old. To escape the heat, all the neighbors had moved chairs outside to their porches and the kids, unable to sleep in their stifling bedrooms, ran around the street in a pack chasing fireflies. I was the smallest child in the group and feeling oh-so-happy to be included. I was having a great time until one of the bigger boys snatched my favorite doll from my arms and threw her into the yard of the “haunted” house at the end of the block. I knew from the other kids that the man inside the house poisoned children who came into his yard. I stood there frozen, torn between wanting to rescue my dolly and terrified of the man who poisoned kids. Simply frozen. That was my first taste of fear. Decades later, just seeing fireflies reminds me of that night. Yes, that’s how powerful fear can be. Here are some things I learned about it since I was five:

Fear of being alone can lead people to make some mighty bad choices.
Being alone is hard for some people. Whether it’s that Noah’s Ark thing where we all traveled in pairs, or just the fact that when you say “table for one” to the maitre ‘d, you are invariably led to a table in the back by the kitchen, many people prefer coupledom to flying solo. It’s why we move in together, get married and stay married — even when we know we shouldn’t.

Learning to spend time alone is a skill best acquired in childhood. I was raised as an only child, and frequently lacked playmates-on-demand. I learned how to amuse myself and in the process figured out that being alone wasn’t anything to be afraid of. I spent years as a single woman and mastered how to travel alone, how to buy and sell homes alone, how to eat out in a restaurant alone. Now I live in a boisterous household filled with kids, animals and noise coming from TVs and computers constantly. I am so rarely alone that I secretly thank the soccer coach who keeps the kids late on Thursdays. I pour a glass of wine, go out on the deck and just be.

Fear of change only leads to complacency.
Whether it’s taking a new job, ending a bad marriage, or moving to a new city — when we let our fear of change paralyze us, we wind up stuck in a rut. Change can be energizing. It can sharpen your outlook, give you a different perspective on things. Fear of change is a problem worth tackling.

I know a woman who is so afraid of change that she’s worn the same hairstyle for the past 15 years. Years ago she screamed a hairdresser into submission — “I said a TRIM; do you hear me, a TRIM?” — and will now go to no one else. Contrast that with my former colleague Susan Spano, a travel writer who once wrote how she found it invigorating to get her hair cut in whatever foreign city she was visiting — including the $2 hair cut she got in a Beijing alley. Guess who’s more fun to hang out with.

Fear of the unknown is often worse than the reality.
You know that. We all know that. It’s our worry gene on overdrive. It’s our need to be in control of everything all the time. It’s the fear of the boogieman in the closet who we should have left behind when we moved into adulthood.

If you must obsess, the remedy is simple: Write down what you think the worst-case scenario outcome will be and figure out in advance what your handling-strategy will be. So if you’re bored at the party and don’t know who to talk to, you’ll feign a headache and leave after an hour. What’d you lose, except an hour?

Fear of aging is just plain silly; what some people do because of it is just plain stupid.
OK, those are fightin’ words, and this might be a point of some contention, so let’s just say upfront that this is my opinion only. Why be afraid of the inevitable? Life is a journey, and hitting a milestone birthday shouldn’t be a cause of despair. I don’t want to live as long as possible, but I do want to live well as long as I can. To that end, I watch what I eat, and I get my mammograms on time. But I accept that I, along with everyone else, is going to die. For that reason, I keep my attentions focused on the things I really want to do. The older I get, the less time I have for uninteresting people, meaningless chatter and days wasted pleasing strangers.

As for aging, I can only speak from where I sit: For the most part, I’ve enjoyed getting older and with the exception of a stubborn bunion, really don’t mind what’s going on with my body. I’m not sure what there is to be afraid of about aging, especially since there is little you can control about it anyway. What I don’t understand are the men and women who line up for Botox and facelifts like that’s somehow going to make them recapture their youth. It doesn’t; it just makes it harder to smile. I’d rather smile more.

Fear of unemployment is contagious.
This one is of course a fairly recent fear phenomenon. I’ve been in workplaces where the rumors of pending layoffs spread like wildfire. Emails and text messages fly fast and furiously. “John just got called to H&R.” Your gut tightens, and you start to make lists of every job contact you have. You swear that if the axe spares you this round, you will update your resume and be proactive. But mostly, you just sit there and sweat, waiting to see if you get the shoulder tap. Nobody goes to lunch. A few brave souls meet at the water cooler, stealing furtive glances out to the office floor to see who is packing up their desk.

The only antidote I know to these awful awful days is to engage the fallen. Walk up to them, offer a hug and promise to make some calls to someone who might be hiring. It’s encouragement, it’s good karma, it’s the humane thing to do.

Unemployment isn’t contagious, but the fear of it is.

Fear of embarrassment can cripple.
Nobody sets out to make a fool of themselves, but it happens to each of us. What really matters is how strong our need is to avoid those situations. Do you not go to the beach because you are embarrassed by how you look in a swimsuit? Do you pass up the chance for an early-morning hike because you won’t be seen without makeup? Do you not speak up at a meeting because you fear your ideas will be rejected?

We all have our own personal nightmares. The funny thing is how they change. I remember a time when, if my hosiery sprouted a run up the back, I would have just died. Now, I need to look up how to spell the word. Some embarrassments you outgrow, some just distance themselves from you with time. When my sports-insane husband got himself tossed out of our daughter’s first AYSO soccer game, I was ready to list the house for sale and move someplace where nobody knew us. That’s how embarrassed I was. Turns out, most people thought he was a local hero for taking on the pig-headed, power-hungry ref. And eventually, I came to appreciate the lesson he taught my kids: It’s OK to question authority, and nobody but nobody is going to have your back like your Daddy does.

Fear of looking stupid.
Perhaps a first-cousin of fear of embarrassment, the unwillingness to ask for help or information because you’re afraid you’ll look stupid is just a one-way trip up a dead-end street. When I was a cub reporter, a wise editor once told me: “The only stupid question is the one you are afraid to ask.” He was right. Learning to say, “I don’t know” doesn’t shut doors; it opens them.

Fear of admitting you were wrong.
This is a relationship-killing, friendship-busting fear that carries a prison term of loneliness. Sometimes, you just have to figure out which you want more: to be right all the time or to be happy. And P.S., nobody is right all the time.

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ann-brenoff/what-i-know-about-fear-60s_b_1841337.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

Women & Food: Food Addiction Label Increases Stigma For Obese Individuals, Study Finds


The Huffington Post  |  By 

The stigma attached to food addiction is not as strong as the stigma attached to other addictions such as alcoholism or drug abuse, according to a new study — unless you’re obese.

New research out of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, published in the February 2013 issue of Basic and Applied Social Psychology, indicates that public feelings about food addiction are relatively benevolent when the sufferer is not obese.

Researchers Jenny DePierre, Rebecca Puhl and Joerg Luedicke conducted two separate studies to gauge the social stigma surrounding food addiction.

In the first study, 659 participants took an online survey where they were asked to imagine encounters with people each labeled with one of the following conditions: cocaine addict, mentally ill, smoker, physically disabled, obese, obese food addict, obese physically disabled, and food addict. The researchers presented the labelled individuals in a random order, and participants answered questions about their feelings towards individuals branded with each label. The participants also indicated how likely they would be to socially interact with each labelled individual, the amount of sympathy or concern they felt towards each, the amount of anger or disgust they felt towards them, and how responsible they thought each person was for his or her target label.

The results indicated that the health condition label “cocaine addict” received the highest (worst) social stigma ratings, and the “physically disabled” label received the lowest stigma rating, meaning it was the least stigmatized. Food addicts fell in the middle, carrying less stigma than other addictions like smoking and alcoholism — except when the food addicts were also obese. In that case, the stigma was higher than it was for smoking or alcoholism. Also, the researchers wrote, “The obese food addict received significantly higher ratings of anger/disgust and social distance than either obese or food addict labels, indicative of an additive stigmatizing effect.”

In the second study, researchers looked at the stigma the food addiction label carries compared only to alcoholism and smoking labels, because “food, alcohol and tobacco are all legal and readily available substances.” Five hundred and seventy participants were randomly assigned to one of six possible conditions, where they were asked to read a vignette about a thin alcoholic, obese alcoholic, thin smoker, obese smoker, thin food addict or obese food addict, view an image of that individual, and answer questions about them. Results showed that the participants found both the thin and obese food addicts more likable and less responsible for their condition than the smoker or the alcoholic.

Together the results of the two studies showed that although food addiction in itself is less stigmatized than smoking, alcoholism, or drugs, an obese food addict is viewed much more negatively than a thin one.

“Our findings offer preliminary insights into how food addiction is perceived among other health conditions and how it affects public attitudes toward obesity,” researcher Rebecca Puhl said in a Yale press release.

Food addiction is not formally classified in the 5th Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), but mounting research on the subject suggests that it is a real condition. In 2010, physician Mark Hyman suggested that food addiction could help explain the prevalence of obesity in the U.S., and why some obese individuals continue to overeat despite the health risks and social stigma of doing so. In 2011, researchers at Yale’s Rudd Center found that food addiction affects the brain in a similar manner to drug addiction.

The stigma surrounding obesity is well established. Obese individuals, often thought to practice poor hygiene and laziness, are discriminated against in the areas of education and employment. Perhaps as a result of these stigmas, obese individuals are less confident in their romantic relationships and less likely to seekmedical treatment than average-weight or underweight individuals. Weight stigma has also been shown to impact women’s stress levels.

Puhl and Luedicke’s study found that the food addict label adds to the stigma of obesity, but thin or “normal weight” sufferers are not harshly judged for their affliction.

“Compared to other stigmatizing addictions, food addiction is less vulnerable to the public stigma,” Puhl told the Hartford Courant. “The problem is that obesity is so strongly associated with willpower or personal responsibility. Whether the food addiction label is enough to to challenge those stereotypes, we don’t know.”

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/12/food-addict-label-fat-stigma-obese_n_2670457.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

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