Obesity and Mental Illness

A new study by Institute for Health and Social Science Research at Central Queensland University says people who are obese are more likely to report mental health problems.

I’ve heard people tut-tutting in the few days since the report was released, with comments like ‘why don’t they do something about it’? They being the obese people of course. Or perhaps the big they, The Government, who should force the obese onto diets somehow. Since I don’t do
body snarking conversations
– anymore – I turned the discussion to other things. I could have had the conversation I’m about to write, but history tells me these particular people are simply not interested in looking past their current set of beliefs. And that’s okay, that’s where they are, and my head’s done with brick walls.

I wasn’t surprised to read the story to be honest, because from my own work with people suffering from negative body image issues, I can say for sure that yes, their self-esteem is generally pretty low.

And why wouldn’t it be? If a person is overweight or obese in our society, they are also somehow a legitimate target for scorn, sniggering, unwanted advice, and any kind of nasty comment or petty outrageous behaviour from anyone who wants to dish that out. We have dehumanised ‘fatties’.

Dr Samantha Thomas in her interview during The Body Image Revolution pointed to the tendency of the media to use picture of ‘headless fatties’ to illustrate any point talking about weight. Take a person’s face away, and we’re left with the body as an object, not as a person.

When we turn a person into an object, we can then treat them any way we want to. And messages of hate will inevitably follow.

I’m imagining that right about now you’re saying ‘but fat is so bad for health!’. That’s debatable actually but the point I want to make here is that hating someone has never helped them, and it certainly doesn’t help the person doing the hating either.

Many studies tell us that the stigma we heap onto people who are fat causes them to feel marginalised, inadequate, anxious and yes, even depressed.

So it truly is “what comes first” – do they get fat and therefore stigmatised because they’re depressed, or do they get depressed because they are fat and stigmatised?

Studies tell us that it’s in fact more amazing that more fat people are not more depressed and anxious than they are, because of the way society views them and speaks about them.

And if you’re a fat person, there’s a very good chance that you speak as badly to yourself as does the outside world, after all that’s what you’ve been taught to do. You’ve learned that you are inadequate, less attractive, lazy, and probably not too smart, because that’s how fat people are shown and talked about.

From where I’m sitting, I’d have to say I think the studies are correct – fat shaming and fat hating aren’t doing a thing to motivate anyone to do anything other than want to hide.

So what to do? Each one of us has a role here – notice what you think and feel when you see a fat person, even if that fat person is you. Then do my ten day body bliss course, because it will help you take a new look at what you’ve always believed. One person at a time, we can change this world into one of acceptance … yeh I know I’m an idealist, I’m an Aquarian 🙂 Join me, find your own body bliss and be a world changing idealist too 🙂


  1. Donna on March 29, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    This was something I needed to read. I have put on pounds this winter. Recently started making fat comments about myself. Especially when around a friend that is quite slim. Not sure why I am saying these things. Really need to stop. Thanks for the wake up call.

    • Sandy on March 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      @Donna, good on you Donna, noticing what you’re saying to yourself as you’re saying it, is step 1 – the next steps get way easier when you’re aware 🙂

  2. julieke on April 14, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    hi Sandy, me again 🙂 good comment feed to answer to, sorry in advance about my past issues, anyhoo i was in a verbally abusive marraige for 19 years i had my whole personality from a bubbly out going person to a feeling a virtual waste of life to anyone including family .. anyway point is i was very depressed and dress size 24 on leaving the marraige after many therapy sessions … i was clinically depressed and very overweight as im only 5ft i wasnt in a good place i felt disgusting about myself couldnt look in the mirror even to brush my teeth …his comments how i looked ring in my ears to the point of ..well il say no more that was 2004.. 10 years on still battling with depression although alot better and down to a more healthier size 16… my fella hes one in a million as ive pointed out he loves me for who i am and helped me see myself that way also.. to be honest the media has alot to do with what women should look like from teens those appaulling websites showing teen girls how to be thin etc etc… i have grown to love the skin im in each day im climbing that slippery wet mountain im getting there 🙂 men only want trophys in their younger days or mid life crisis days ..dorks…well alot do lol…. ladies honestly ..you are the beautiful and worth everything and the leaders of men when it comes to men ..without us what would they have..nothing is the answer thats why when a guy looks at you ..its coz he likes you..men are simple they are attracted to pretty things and a smile ..im being poked here haha.. but its true a smile and confidence within you is way more attractive than a whole load of barbie fakery..of course if you like barbie fakery ..good for you too but do it for you not thinking thats what men like …97% men dont like the barbie look … but what annoyed me the other day went to my doctors had my weight checked blood tests etc ..(her knowing my condition) started going on about my weight i didnt know wether to cry or shout at her .. i ended up crying .. making out i eat fried stuff and takeaways…omg i saw red ..the thing is me and food have a love hate relationship as it is … if i could take a tablet with everything my body needs daily i wouldnt have to eat …because i know i should eat regular blah blah but my head sometimes is stuck back when i was size 24 and i cant face eating anything … i think at the end f the day ..girls and boys alike should be told from an early age about bodies, as they do sex education and be told we are all different ..some are big small skinny but they all have one thing in common …feelings …i had a friend she was morbidly overweight ..soon found out it was her thyroid (thyroid can be confused with depression and weight gain too) ..after 3rd opinions it was sorted and now she has lost half of herself in weight.. so yes it can be a medical issue as depression can cause either to comfort eat or not eat…and because depression isnt visible people dont understand they think your faking it ..oh if only they knew..ok im rabbiting again and leaving a long old comment …but getting poked “im worth it” “You are worth it” and i have a beautiful man who thinks im equally beautifull..thanks for reading hope it inspires or helps in a small way to someone 🙂

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