September 10, 2016

Girls Identify As Fat More Often Than Boys

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Girls often see themselves as overweight when they are not, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Aliya Hernandez

Aliya Hernandez

The survey found that 30 percent of girls in Connecticut thought they were overweight, while only 14.1 percent of girls reported that they were actually overweight. For boys, the rates were 26.6 percent and 14.4 percent.

Diamond Simmons, 16, who attends John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, said too many teens obsess about their weight.

“To be fat means to be overweight, and to be overweight means to be fat. Nothing more, nothing less,” she said. “Society has made [being] fat or overweight seem like a bad thing, and that is just wrong. Fat and overweight doesn’t mean ugly. It just means you have more than what someone else might have.”

Connecticut teens say they have different reasons why they consider themselves fat, in contrast to why society thinks they are fat.

“I think I am overweight because I have extra skin that maybe shouldn’t be there, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love myself,’’ said Nyasia Baker, 19, another Kennedy student.

Simmons agrees.

“I’m fat because I eat a lot, and I enjoy eating a lot,’’ she said. “I also enjoy being able to have a variety of what I can eat.”

Christopher Elliott, a nutritionist from Waterbury, said pressure from images in the media makes young people obsess about their looks.

“Physical appearance [is] more important to teens, especially females,’’ he said. “Shows with ‘stars’ like the Kardashians or other surgically repaired/altered females that teens watch and idolize have an impact on them. No wonder they have complexes.”

The Connecticut youth survey found that while males are more likely to be overweight than females, a larger proportion of female teens believe they are overweight than male teens.

“Males have a more sedentary lifestyle,’’ Elliott said. “Video games and higher fat foods are likely to lead to it, though partying like you’re in college probably doesn’t help the gut, either.”

Teens need to support one another, Simmons said.

“We as a community need to reassure everyone that being fat does not mean you are ugly,’’ she said. “Being fat does not make you any less of a person than someone who has less of a [body] than you have.”

Elliott said the secret to happiness is being true to yourself.

“Models and TV stars display what they think is healthy, and people might consider themselves to be fat or overweight when they are not,’’ he said.

“Stop watching crappy shows and idolizing magazine stars. It’s all photo shopped. Be comfortable with you and not what you think the world wants or accepts. Eat ice cream and enjoy life.”

Aliya Hernandez is a student at John F. Kennedy High School, Waterbury.

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