Overweight women whose families, friends and romantic partners criticize their weight tend to gain more weight, according to a new study by scientists at the University of Waterloo. Women who received higher number of 'acceptance messages' about their weight saw better weight loss and weight maintenance than their counterparts who did not receive this positive response from their loved ones.
Social psychologists asked university-age women their height and weight, and how they felt about it. About five months later, they were asked if they had discussed about their concerns with their loved ones, and if so, how they had responded. Three months after that, researchers again tracked their weight and their concerns about it.
Researchers found that pressure from loved ones about weight loss was not helpful for women who were already concerned about it. Women who received weight acceptance messages from loved ones maintained or even lost a pound compared to women who received comparatively few weight acceptance messages from their loved ones who gained almost 4.5 pounds on average. Receiving this unconditional acceptance from loved loves lowers the stress, a known cause of weight gain. Feeling better about themselves led the women to be more active or eat more sensibly.
The study appears in the journal 'Personal Relationships'.