Most of us go on this endless search for ways to look younger, be it a secret cosmetic product or a style of dressing that would enhance our image. Body shape is considered as a major factor that influences our self-esteem— it apparently has a negative correlation with how we feel. The smaller our body size, the higher our confidence to face the rest of the world. Based on this dilemma, weight loss seems to be the biggest hurdle for those who want to look younger.
According to recent medical report, body image has such a big impact on an individual that it can influence one’s psychosocial activities, as well as the quality of life. For individuals, especially women who are struggling with weight loss, a poor body image may also result in depression and further deterioration of eating patterns. The authors of the report were well aware of the association between body image and general well being and they were prompted to conduct a study on weight loss interventions and body image perceptions.
The study was fueled by the concept of body image among women, or the perception of whether one felt beautiful and satisfied with their shape and appearance. The researchers also understood that most of the previous studies conducted on weight loss focused on the decrease in weight among study participants and not specifically on self-perception of feeling beautiful and looking younger. These psychological factors apparently served as the main mechanism in driving weight loss among overweight and obese women.
The research study was conducted based on this premise and it involved approximately 225 women with an average age of 37.6 years and an average body mass index of 31.5 (overweight). The women were enrolled in a weight management program that lasted for 24 months; the program included physical exercise and nutritional advise on healthy food options. At various time points during the study, the study participants were weighed and asked to complete a survey questionnaire that included questions on self-evaluation of body image. For example, the study participants were asked to rate their body figure at that time point and whether the body image they see in the mirror was their ideal shape and size. There were also questions on whether the study participants felt that they look younger or more beautiful than the previous time point.
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The results of the study showed that the study participants felt that they considerably improved their body image and felt beautiful compared to the previous weeks and months. Interestingly, although the actual loss in weight was small, these study participants felt much better about their body image; this may largely be due to the idea that they are actively engaged in physical exercise at a regular schedule.
Unfortunately, a smaller decrease in weight was observed during the second year of the study; this may be due to the prolonged duration of the program and that the study participants were getting bored with the exercises. However, the self-rating results on body image and perception of a beautiful body were not markedly affected by this decrease in physical activities. The study showed that these women have accepted the fact that regular physical exercise is the best and most effective way of achieving a beautiful and healthy body. The information presented in this recent medical report may be useful in the development of intervention programs because it allows personal monitoring not only of an individual’s weight, but also of a person’s perception and satisfaction with one’s body image.