All Woman

How being fat really affects you

Nadine Wilson

Monday, July 30, 2012    

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A proliferation of North American media images profiling stick-thin women as the new sexy has not done much to deter the average Jamaican man from seeking out a woman with a little fat on her bones when searching for a mate.

In fact, male specialist Marlon Moore noted that while Jamaican men usually exhibit different tastes based on their socio-economic backgrounds and personal preferences, local men "generally go for the big bottom, broad hips and small waist".

The jury is still out as to why this continues to be the case, with some of the view that the attraction to fluffy women is based on pre-conceived notions dating back from slavery.

"The perception of the pelvic area is that when you have a certain type of appearance it suggests a woman being far more fertile," explained part time lecturer in the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of West Indies, Mona campus, Horace Williams.

But while fat is still considered sexy in some quarters, the extra pounds do add up to a lot of challenges for overweight women who are seldom immune from the raft of social, medical and psychological issues brought on by their extra weight.

Policymakers continue to take issue with the fact that more than half of Jamaican women are obese, that is, they are over 20 per cent more than their ideal body weight. The country is also ranked 14th on the 2011 World Health Organisation list of countries with the highest levels of overweight females which leads to, among other things, increased pressure on the health sector.

"If we can do something about obesity then we would be addressing most of the other health problems — cancer, stroke, heart disease," said Dr Fitzroy Henry, director of the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute at the University of the West Indies.

If you are a woman and you are obese, here is why you ought to be concerned:

1. Infertility.

Obesity can lead to infertility or can put you and your baby at risk for pregnancy-related complications. During pregnancy, overweight women are at risk for miscarriage, preeclampsia, diabetes and hypertension to a greater degree.

2. Diabetes.

"With obesity, you are actually increasing the inflammation in the body and this triggers diabetes," explained general practitioner Dr Jacqueline E Campbell. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to other health complications such as hypertension, heart attacks, kidney failure and problems with vision.

3. Lowers self-esteem.

Some obese women are teased about their weight, which results in them lacking confidence during social situations. It sometimes also affects the confidence level of loved ones such as children. Stephanie Rowe, who recently shared her success at losing 180 pounds with All Woman, pointed out that her daughter being teased at school for having an overweight mom was one of the driving factors behind her decision to lose the weight.

4. Arthritis.

A recent Mayo Clinic study found that rheumatoid arthritis was more featured in obese women. The researchers were not quite clear of the reason for this, however, they speculated that it was due to the fact that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the joints. Chronic inflammation is usually caused by excessive fat.

5. Curtails physical activities.

Excess weight sometimes helps to restrict movement. As a result, some obese women experience difficulties in doing otherwise normal things such as engaging in sporting activities with their children.

6. Makes sleeping less fun.

Some obese women develop sleep apnea as a result of their excessive weight since respiratory functions are compromised while sleeping. Not sleeping has also been shown to result in more weight gain.

7. Loss of sex drive.

According to a study carried out by researchers at the Duke University Medical Centre, obese women were shown to be far more likely to report dissatisfaction with their sex life than those women with normal weight. In fact, some overweight women avoided sex because of dissatisfaction with how their bodies looked.

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