By Zuzanna Myszko
“Healthism” is a new term that has been coined because of the social link that has been created between morality and health. Because health is seen to be heavily related to weight, people who are overweight are often seen as “lazy” and “over-indulgent,” which are extremely harmful generalizations that make overweight people seem immoral.
Research has shown that the connection between health and weight is not as clear as we once thought. One may participate in health-promoting activities and still be overweight because of metabolic rate, genetics, biological influence, and environmental factors. Therefore, healthism stigmatizes the overweight individual and affects his or her self-image in all aspects of life.
Some specific factors that may be promoting weight gain include:
- Increased accessibility to high-calorie foods and drinks.
- Lower prices of high-calorie foods and drinks.
- Increased prices of fruits and vegetables.
- Living in food deserts, which are areas where affordable and nutritious food are hard to obtain.
- Lack of public transport to get to grocery stores.
- Low safety in some areas.
- Environmental toxins.
Also, dieting, usually touted as the solution to obesity, has shown to be ineffective. People usually bounce back to the weight they were before beginning the diet. More importantly, dieters do not usually experience an increase in well-being and health outcomes.
Additionally, the judgment of others based on their weight implies that they should not be allowed to be responsible for their own bodies, which is an absurd assumption. All people have the right to autonomy when it comes to their bodies.
In the end, healthism has an excessively negative effect on the mental health of those impacted starting at a very young age. Many experience eating disorders as a result. Therefore, people who are generally termed “overweight” must focus on the facts and create a positive relationship with their body.
If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from issues related to weight or eating disorders, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.