Psychological Self-Help

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of heart disease, 4 to 5 times the risk of diabetes, more back trouble
and, in general, a lower quality of life for a shorter while. Note: being
obese or even just a little over-weight is regarded negatively in our
culture (Moyer calls it "demonized"). Remember, being over-weight
may have physiological causes and over-eating often becomes a
powerful habit that is almost impossible to conquer. Large people
deserve our sympathy, not our disdain and rejection. 
Just a brief note about the prejudice against fat people: It is
one of our culture's more unfair discriminations. About 16% of
American parents-to-be would abort an untreatably fat child if it could
be predicted, that's about the same as a retarded child. Fat people
scare many children by age 3 or 4 because they look different. In
grade school, children often describe their over-weight peers as dirty,
lazy, ugly, stupid, sloppy, etc. Teenagers sometimes cruelly tease and
insult them, often avoiding them. One study showed that college
students would rather marry an embezzler, a drug user, a shoplifter,
or a blind person than a obese person. The very over-weight are often
denied jobs and health insurance; they earn 24% less than others;
they frequently have few friends. Obesity (and the way other people
react to them) often leads to low self-esteem and deep depression.
(Most of this information comes from Carey Goldberg's New York
Times article on 11/5/00.) As a culture, we need to find ways to
control our weight and ways to curb our prejudice. 
There is clear evidence that obesity is correlated with many more
medical problems and expenses than smoking or drinking, but this
relationship may not be causal or as simple as it seems. Dr. Glen
Gaesser (2002) reports that today's popular health literature implies
that being over-weight is responsible for 300,000 deaths a year. He
believes fat may not be the main villain because several other
unhealthy characteristics are often associated with being over-weight,
such as poor diet, lack of exercise, poor fitness, bad dieting habits,
inadequate health care, and so on. Providing some confirmation of this
notion, Dallas's Cooper Institute has found that the high mortality
rates among the obese was explained by activity levels, not weight.
Those researchers suggest that a brisk 1/2 hour walk every day will
result in the same mortality rates as thin people have. Books for
weight-control may be over-emphasized while books about exercise
Ordinary, simple overeating is very common but there are several
types of quite serious eating disorders. Overeating can develop into
frequent recurrent overeating episodes called Binge Eating Disorder.
There is a chance that bingeing and/or very strict dieting can develop
into Bulimia or Anorexia. Bulimia involves impulsive binge eating
followed by harmful self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretics use,
and compulsive exercise. Anorexia involves seeing one's self as fat
when in reality you are very thin; this is a dangerous disorder because
anorexics may refuse to eat, eventually starving themselves to death
(1 in 10 die from a related cause). About 10 million American women
have an eating disorder, although it is adolescent and young women
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