What to Read Next

Does thinking you’re fat, make you fat?

Nadine Bells
Shine On
August 21, 2012

Bad body image might be a self-fulfilling prophecy, a recent study claims, as normal-weight teens who think they're fat are more likely to grow up to be overweight.

"Perceiving themselves as fat even though they are not may actually cause normal-weight children to become overweight as adults," says Koenraad Cuypers, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

These findings were published this month in the Journal of Obesity.

"The team from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology used a survey of 1,200 normal weight adolescents aged 13 to 19, in which they were asked about their perception of their weight," The Telegraph summarizes the study. "They compared the responses with a follow-up questionnaire eleven years later, examining how many had a Body Mass Index — a measure of weight relative to height — of 25kg per square metre (classed as 'overweight') or 30kg per square metre and above ('obese')."

Also see: What makes pro-anorexia bloggers tick?

The researchers found that half of the study participants were still at a normal weight in adulthood.

However, 59 per cent of the female participants who felt fat in their teens became overweight in adulthood. While only 31 per cent of normal-weight teens who did not consider themselves fat grew up to be overweight.

When obesity was measured by waist circumference instead of BMI, these numbers increased dramatically, with 78 per cent of "fat" teens going up to be overweight and only 55 per cent of teens with better body image growing up to be overweight.

Researchers cite multiple possible explanations for their findings, including psychological stress due to unhappiness with one's body -- which can contribute to gaining weight around the waist.

"Another explanation may be that young people who see themselves as fat often change their eating habits by skipping meals, for example. Research has shown that dropping breakfast can lead to obesity,"says Cuypers.

Also see: Graphic U.K. public service ads target texting while driving

Cuypers believes both the school system and the society at large need to work to address these body-image issues which can lead to later health consequences, and wants to see a shift from a focus on weight to a focus on well-being.

"The weight norms for society must be changed so that young people have a more realistic view of what is normal. In school you should talk to kids about what are normal body shapes, and show that all bodies are beautiful as they are," says Cuypers.

"Having normal weight and being satisfied with their weight are favourable factors for an adolescent. Weight perceptions are, however, often unrealistic," the writers conclude in the study.

A 2010 study suggests that all women fear getting fat, even those who claim to not care about body issues. Cuypers' study confirms that those fears and body-image issues in adolescence are more harmful than preventative.

Want to set your kids up for success? Here are 28 ways to teach your children to love their bodies.

Watch the below video about the youngest person to ever swim across Lake Ontario to raise money for kids with cancer.

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

Stop Paying Too Much For Your Prescriptions.

Drug prices vary wildly between pharmacies. GoodRx finds the lowest prices and discounts. Compare prices, print free coupons & save up to 80%.

What Causes Heartburn

Wondering What Causes Heartburn? Learn About Causes of Heartburn, Including the Types of Food That Can Trigger Heartburn.

Read This Before You Buy Medigap Plan F

Plan F is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan option, but there's another plan you should consider.

Insane Navy Seal Flashlight, should it be banned?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - Limited Supply!

Time is Running Out

Just 6 days remain to enter for a shot at $5,000 A Week “Forever.”

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.

Hilton HHonors™ Card

Earn 40,000 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points. Apply for Your Card Today.

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Bring Home This Heart-Warming Disney Movie Offer!

Get 4 Disney Movies For $1 With Membership. See Details. Exclusive Titles, Merchandise, Offers & Discounts. Plus, Free Shipping On Your Initial Order!

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Tighter Looking Skin Without Cosmetic Procedures

Reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

World's best nudist vacation spots

Poor Justin Bieber can't get away, having been spotted naked in Bora Bora. But there are places where you can let it all hang out without judgement.