Obesity and relationships


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
Obesity and relationships

In a society that stereotypes obesity as a symptom of sloth, overindulgence and a lack of self-control, sufferers are often left with feelings of social exclusion and isolation. Even more so in a relationship, the psychological implications of the 'fat stereotype' can be equally disruptive

In the UK, more than 50 per cent of women are now overweight with one in five being clinically obese. These statistics have tripled over the last 20 years and are still rising - by 2010 it is estimated that around one in four adults will suffer from obesity.
Obesity is associated with numerous health problems such as type II diabetes, heart disease and osteoarthritis. There is also a social stigma to obesity; people who suffer often find themselves stared at in the street or the victim of verbal and psychological abuse. The fear of ill health and the impact of social stereotyping not only affects the individual sufferer, but their partner too.

He was big too
Sarah was overweight herself when she met Jonathon. "I think I was initially attracted to him because he was big too, and I didn't feel so ashamed of myself," she says. "When we were in the street together, I knew people were staring more at him than they were at me, because he was bigger". The shame that Sarah describes is a common symptom of obesity and can cause emotional imbalance within a relationship, where one party feels more worthless than the other.

Obesity often leads to low self-esteem, a loss of dignity and emotional instability. When people are clinically obese, they usually suffer physical limitations too. This means that it is harder to feel motivated to exercise, and the simplest tasks can be physically exhausting and challenging.

Since the 1960s the population as a whole has become more sedentary with greater hours spent in front of the television, and an increasingly automated lifestyle. This lifestyle trend was highlighted to Sarah when she and Jonathon first moved in together. 'I tried to encourage him to get more exercise, but it seemed the bigger he got, the more lazy he became,' she explained. 'He would come in the door sweating from the stairs and then collapse in front of the television with a beer until bedtime.'

Obesity and sex
In the bedroom, the problem is particularly exaggerated. The fatter a person gets, the less they are interested in sex, and the less sex they get the more their bodies crave satisfaction from food. The physical limitations of excess weight can make sexual activity too strenuous, and the constant feelings of lethargy, caused by obesity, tend to diminish a person's sex drive too.

It is also common for partners of overweight individuals to no longer find them sexually attractive because of weight gain. These emotions are usually denied or suppressed to prevent hurt and upset. In reality however, these emotions are blocking communication, and although difficult to confront, are only exacerbating the problem further.

Eventually Sarah and Jonathon split up and she met someone else. She admits that dating Jonathon was a mistake for both of them. 'We were both vulnerable because of the emotional implications of our weight,' she explains. 'I know he is happier now, and we have both found the support we needed to lose weight from other people.'
Sarah is now much happier with her size, 'I am still large but no longer obese' she says. 'The man I am with now likes me with curves, and finds me sexy, but as an active, bubbly big person, not a lazy overweight sloth.'
Many men find big women attractive and curves and love handles are often considered to be the ultimate in sexuality and sensuality. Clinical obesity however, is the other end of the spectrum. Partners of obese individuals have a responsibility to help address the issue, if for no other reason than the health dangers that obesity causes.

How to help an obese partner

Address the issue

Sit down and discuss the issue together, with each partner talking honestly about what you both want, and how you want to achieve it. Partners should remember to be sensitive but honest, at the same time as reassuring them that they will do everything they can to help, and that they are not alone.

Get guidance

If your partner wishes it, go together to a doctor who you feel comfortable talking to. Many obese people avoid getting help because they are embarrassed or ashamed, so going together may help. Luckily today, most health professionals are aware of the problems associated with weight issues, and will be able to provide honest, supportive advice and treatment if necessary.

Set achievable goals

Setting unachievable weight loss goals will only lead to failure. Gradual weight loss is far more desirable and will provide major health benefits such as improved glycemic control, blood pressure as well as increased energy, better sleep, more mobility and a generally happier outlook.

Get the whole house involved

Obese adults report that family resistance to changes in lifestyle can be a barrier to weight loss, so it's imperative that they have the whole family's support. This may mean banning certain food items from the house, restricting the amount of time the family watches television or agreeing to go out together for walks at the weekend.

Spend time together

Set aside some time together as a couple for some physical activity, perhaps a walk together at the weekend, or a stroll to and from the shops. Heavily overweight people often feel uncomfortable in public, so going out with their partner by their side can help to build confidence. This time can also help to rebuild the channels of communication that may have broken down, so that you are not only exercising the weight off, but exercising your relationship too.
Sep 3, 2012
very nice story, but i suggest taking daily exercise is very good and special running wearing comfortable running shoes helps to get rid of fat.

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