Reports have emerged that plus-size clothing could be hidden dangers with the normalisation of ‘plus-size’ body shapes and availability of extensive clothing lineup fueling increase in obesity.
Plus size clothing stores have popped up online in huge numbers and according to reports availability of such clothes could be leading to increasing number of people underestimating their weight – undermining efforts to tackle England’s ever-growing obesity problem.
According to an academic at the University of East Anglia, while launch of plus-size clothing ranges may help promote body positivity, there could be a possible unintentional negative consequence that may prevent recognition of the health risks of being overweight.
Researchers examined the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics associated with underestimation of weight status to reveal social inequalities in patterns of weight misperception. Analysis of data from almost 23,460 people who are overweight or obese revealed that weight misperception has increased in England. Men and individuals with lower levels of education and income are more likely to underestimate their weight status and consequently less likely to try to lose weight.
Members of minority ethnic groups are also more likely to underestimate their weight than the white population, however they are more likely to try to lose weight. Overall, those underestimating their weight are 85% less likely to try to lose weight compared with people who accurately identified their weight status.
The results, published today in the journal Obesity, show that the number of overweight individuals who are misperceiving their weight has increased over time, from 48.4% to 57.9% in men and 24.5% to 30.6% in women between 1997 and 2015. Similarly, among individuals classified as obese, the proportion of men misperceiving their weight in 2015 was almost double that of 1997 (12% vs 6.6%).
The study used data from the annual Health Survey for England, which contains a question on weight perception. Focusing on respondents with a BMI of 25 or over, about two-thirds were classified as being overweight and one-third as obese. In order to assess trends in self-perception of weight status, the analysis was based on pooled data from five years – 1997, 1998, 2002, 2014, 2015 – of the survey.
The proportion underestimating their weight status was higher among overweight individuals compared with those with obesity (40.8% vs 8.4%). Correspondingly, only about half of overweight individuals were trying to lose weight compared with more than two-thirds of people with obesity.