Updated: September 20, 2019 3:01:19 pm
Obesophobia refers to an abnormal fear of gaining weight. The word obesophobia originated from Greek words ‘obese’ (meaning fat) and ‘phobia’ (meaning fear). People suffering from this phobia may develop other psychological disorders such as anorexia (denying eating), bulimia (throwing up right after eating) and start hating people who are overweight or obese.
“A person suffering from obesophobia may find it very difficult to eat anything that is not a part of the strict diet plan they follow. They may also face a lot of trouble while going out and eating at restaurants. This fear of putting on weight can become life-threatening if not treated in time,” says Dr Binita Priyambada, senior consultant, medical team at Docprime.com.
What are the causes?
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Obesophobia, just like other phobias, arises from a combination of traumatic events and internal predispositions. A person who has always been bullied for being obese in the past may suffer from this phobia. However, heredity, genetics, and chemistry of the brain when combined together with life experiences play a crucial role in the development of obesophobia, adds Dr Priyambada.
What are the symptoms?
Anyone who is following a healthy diet regime is not suffering from obesophobia. Obesophobic people, along with following strict diet plans, tend to workout excessively. They may starve themselves to just stay in shape. They may be irrationally concerned about putting on weight while in reality they may be shedding some pounds.
“Obesophobic people often have less confidence and very low self-esteem. Their fear of putting on weight may make them socially awkward and prevent them from getting into a healthy relationship with others. Obesophobic people may not be able to eat anything cooked by others due to the fear of wrong ingredients and number of calories. These people may carry their own food wherever they go,” she tells indianexpress.com.
Dr Priyambada further says that in case, an obesophobic person has to eat anything outside, s/he may feel very uncomfortable and anxious. In some cases, obesophobic people may eat too less that they may actually suffer from deficiency of various nutrients.
What is the possible treatment?
There is no perfect treatment for obesophobia, points out Dr Priyambada. However, therapy may be able to help the patients identify the reason as to why they are so dreaded of gaining weight. A psychologist/psychiatrist may conduct several therapy sessions to help patients recognise the reason behind their fear. Patients may also be introduced to exposure therapy, where they may be given caloric-dense foods to start conquering their fears.
The patients may be asked to continue with mild cardio exercises, leaving behind strenuous weight training. They may also be asked to limit their consumption of caffeine as it leads to increased anxiety. DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) is another form of effective treatment for people struggling with obesophobia. In severe cases, anti-psychic medications and antidepressants may also be prescribed to obesophobic patients.
“Teenagers often tend to pay a lot of attention towards their looks and body. This inclination towards looking pretty may lead to the onset of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Having a watchful eye during this period on your children, would help you correct their approach to eating and body weight. However, one feels incapable to deal with their child’s seriously erroneous eating pattern and body image, it will be prudent to seek help from psychologists and counselor,” she sums up.
📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.
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