Teenagers in China who perceive themselves as being fat, despite being normal or even underweight face a higher risk of developing depression and school-related stress, reports a new study conducted by researchers. This could be due to an inclination to Western culture and the misconception that 'thin is beautiful'.
The researchers surveyed more than 7000 middle- and high-school students, across seven different Chinese studies. Teenage girls who said that they were obese, reported a grade point average of 3.06 Vs other girls who scored 3.20 overall. Surprisingly, young boys reported of being rude and losing their temper, had they perceived themselves to be overweight.
The results of this interesting study can be found in the latest issue of American Journal of Health Behavior. 'Thin as the ideal body type is a relatively new standard in China, a trend fueled by increased wealth and media exposure to Western lifestyle. The major point here is that misperception has an important impact on academic performance and a person's psychological experience,' said study author, Bin Xie, of the USC School of Social Work.
The study has been funded by the USC Pacific Rim Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center that in turn is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Sidney R. Garfield Endowment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute for Health Education in Kunming provided additional support for the project.
A similar study that had been conducted previously had established a strong correlation between weight and happiness of Chinese youth's. Exposure to the Western media was found to have a profound impact on weight gain, in addition to encouraging them to adopt unhealthy behaviors such as drinking or smoking.
The results of the present study highlight the fact that an individual's perception can strongly influence the actual body weight by having a negative psychological effect on the mental health status. This also highlights the importance being given to the so-called body image by children and young adults.