Woman ‘have inbuilt fear of getting fat that does not exist in men’

Posted: 2010/04/15 in General News
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Women have a subconscious fear of getting fat, a study has found. When they see an overweight woman, their brain reacts negatively, increasing feelings of unhappiness and even selfloathing. While this is common in anorexics and others with eating disorders, the experts found it also happens in healthy women with no obvious worries about their weight.

Men, however, showed no such response. The study suggests women are under such pressure to conform to certain body shapes that even those considererd happy and healthy have a subconscious fear of getting fat. The researchers used MRI scans to study the reaction of the brain to images of strangers for the journal of Personality and Individual Differences. When women caught sight of an overweight, female stranger, it set off a reaction in the part of the brain that processes ‘identity and self reflection’. A similar test on men showed no such reaction. Neuroscientist Mark Allen said: ‘These women have no history of eating disorders and project an attitude that they don’t care about body image. ‘Yet under the surface is an anxiety about getting fat.’

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