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Research says Americans blame themselves for obesity


While health experts tend to point the finger at the fast food or advertising industries for the country's obesity problem, new research reveals that most Americans actually blame themselves.

The findings have significant implications for professionals who work with eating disorder patients and those struggling with weight problems. Moreover, the University of Illinois study suggests that policy efforts when it comes to battling obesity should be revisited.

“In the United States, we’re known for being an individualistic-based society, so it’s not exceptionally surprising that we would put this responsibility for obesity on ourselves," said study author Brenna Ellison, Ph.D.

Who's to blame?

The survey sought to answer one basic question: "Who is primarily to blame for the rise in obesity?" Respondents then weighed in on how different entities (individuals, food manufacturers, government policies, etc.) contribute to obesity. About 94 percent of the participants said that individuals are primarily responsible for obesity. Parents, most agreed, come next.

As studies are beginning to show that shame and blame can actually hinder people from recovering from disordered eating habits, the survey sheds light on how mental health experts, physicians and other healthcare professionals can help patients adopt healthier attitudes about body image and weight loss.

Ellison concluded that efforts targeted at fixing the obesity problem should reflect what people actually believe is causing the issue.

“We need to be realistic about the solutions we’re proposing and implementing, and if people are not buying into them, they may need to be re-evaluated,” Ellison said.

More information about the study can be found in the journal Appetite.

Source: Psych Central