Weight critics - we may run into them during the holidays, when getting together with well-meaning family and friends. If you've ever experienced weight criticism yourself, you know how lousy it makes you feel. Well, next time it happens, you can answer them back with the latest science - that research shows that their well-meaning advice is not only NOT going to help, it will only make things worse! New research from Professor Christine Logel from Renison University College at the University of Waterloo, just released Dec 19, suggests that our family and friends can have very positive - or negative - effects on young women in particular. Here is the link you can send them: "A little acceptance is good for your health: Interpersonal messages and weight change over time" http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pere.12050/abstract
If they REALLY want to help, the research shows that family and friends CAN help by giving positive "acceptance messages" - telling their loved one that they ACCEPT their body AS IT IS. These positive acceptance messages actually lead to better weight maintenance, even weight loss. Researchers suspect that the supportive messages help reduce stress, and inspire self-confidence - which then help the person struggling with weight to adopt healthier behaviors. Makes sense, doesn't it? If we feel good about ourselves, relaxed and confident, we are more likely to have the energy to take action for healthy, self-care behaviors.
Here is a link to a great little article about the research, which you can pass along to your helpful relatives/friends, if the original research abstract is a bit too abstract for them: http://www.examiner.com/article/criticism-of-weight-can-cause-more-weight-problems
From the article: "women who were given a higher number of what the researchers have referred to as acceptance messages dealing with their weight had better weight maintenance. These women even had more weight loss than their counterparts who didn't get positive messaging from the loved ones in their lives...when women who are concerned about their weight were informed that their loved ones accepted them as they are, they had more positive feelings about their bodies...Logel sees feeling that our loved ones are accepting us just the way we are is a significant part of social support. It has been suggested by this study that feeling better about themselves lead the women to be more active or to adhere to more healthy diets. It appears that being given unconditional acceptance might have decreased their stress which is a known cause of weight gain."
If the family member/friend ignores the science, and persists in the criticism, you can explain that their behavior is a form of 'concern-trolling', a passive-aggressive form of sabotage, and you would appreciate it if they would stop that behavior. (A "concern troll" has been defined as person who is posing as a helpful ally, but in reality is merely a critic and bully, trying to stir things up.) That may well confuse them, which is okay - they are likely to give up at that point! The important thing is that you feel good about yourself - and don't let anyone take that away from you!