Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Success = confidence, attractiveness or brainis?

A survey of 1,600 young people aged 11-24, the objective of which was to determine their levels of confidence, has released their findings:
60% of girls said they felt confident, compared to 67% of boys.

37% of 14-17-year-olds admitted to being more confident when they were online than when interacting face to face.
66% of girls' said that their level of confidence is influenced by how attractive they felt they were, compared to 46% of boys.
All those taking part in the study believed that confidence is an essential part of acquiring success.

Confidence and its relationship to success has recently been highlighted in several articles e.g. The telegraph: ‘Key to career success is confidence not talent’.

Interestingly, there is another school of thought that is also trying to identify the key to success; one which believes that its looks/attractiveness not brains that leads to success e.g.

Daily Telegraph: ‘Why teenagers would rather look good than be smart’.

Mail Online: ‘Forget University. It’s a pretty face that helps guarantee a successful career’.

This viewpoint (attractiveness) is supported by many studies which have found that being attractive can lead to greater confidence, career success, higher salaries and a longer life.

The implication is that confidence is required for success and that being attractive automatically leads to high levels of confidence; so appearance trumps confidence. This argument is weak because it implies that attractive people are inherently confident, which is evidently not true. Many beautiful/attractive people lack confidence and struggle with insecurities, just like less attractive individuals.

The three main viewpoints on the key to success boils down to:

Attractiveness = Success

Confidence = success

Brains / hard work = success

As usual reality is far more complicated, involves many more elements e.g. the degree to which someone has a nurturing and supportive family and will inevitably vary from person to person.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Adapt or die

The mammoth food and drinks industry is confronting a challenging future, one in which they must adapt or die.

On Tuesday, Coca Cola announced that over the past 5 years, it has spent $118.6 million on health research. Earlier this year the company was accused of financing a project whose objective was to deflect criticism and deliberately downplay the contributing role of sugar in obesity cases.

The controversy centred on Global Energy Balance Network, an organisation that promotes the idea that everyone is too focused on the amounts they are consuming, rather than how much they're exercising. In a network video, one of the group's leader’s states: "eating too much, eating too much, eating too much — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks, and so on."

It is now clear that Coca Cola is taking a two pronged approach: i) opposing the focus on the amounts consumed, while at the same time (contraditory)  ii) attempting to reduce the amounts consumed.

Following March discussions with fitness and nutrition experts, Coca Cola has embraced one of their suggestions and introduced smaller cans.

“The challenge we have with investors is to keep reinforcing the metric that [what] matters most is sales. Volume is no longer appropriate in a world where consumers want smaller packages,” said Sandy Douglas (Health & Wellness Coca Cola).

Adapt or die — Coca Cola has chosen to adapt (with a little resistance).


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bigorexia: Muscle Dysmorphia

Thousands of men are living with an extreme body image disorder know as bigorexia. Experts estimate one-in-ten men training in gyms in the UK may have the condition. It's been compared to anorexia in reverse - where men become obsessed with putting on muscle. It can lead to depression, steroid abuse and in extreme cases, death.



Friday, September 18, 2015

The relationship between BMI and body image

A new study which investigated the relationship between the body mass index (BMI) of overweight teenagers and their level of body image/body confidence has recently published* its findings.

Researchers selected 496 overweight teenagers (275 girls and 221 boys) aged 14/15 from Project EAT (Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults) and monitored them over a 10 year period.

The results:

“Among overweight girls, a significant difference in 10-year BMI change across baseline body satisfaction quartiles was observed. Overweight girls with the lowest body satisfaction at baseline had a nearly three unit greater increase in BMI at follow-up, compared with overweight girls in the high body satisfaction quartile; this difference has important clinical significance.

“Among overweight boys, no significant associations between body satisfaction quartile and change in BMI were observed”.

The study team concluded:

“that boys’ weight status is not related as strongly to their body satisfaction in adolescence as it is among girls, who generally experience greater levels of societal pressure regarding weight and appearance.

“It might be that girls with low body satisfaction reduce participation in regular physical activity, whereas boy’s engagement in physical activity is consistent across levels of body satisfaction. Furthermore, boy’s body satisfaction is known to be influenced by both a desire to have less body fat and a desire to be more muscular, which may have different consequences for weight gain over time than female’s primary focus on body fat.”

Interestingly, the results (as far as girls are concerned) point to the notion long held by My Body Beautiful, that a positive body image can be beneficial for long term emotional and physical health. It is not necessary for someone to have a negative body image/ low body confidence or be shamed (by others) before they willingly make positive health related change.

Having a conversation with girls, about their health/fitness rather than focussing on weight (negative) may provide an opportunity to have a positive and long term impact on their weight and overall wellbeing.


*Journal of Adolescent Health


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Varying perceptions of beauty

Most of us have heard the infamous phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. Beauty is also ‘in the eye of’ culture, by this we mean that beauty is formulated and shaped by culture and therefore varies across cultures. This latter fact was recently illustrated in international survey which asked graphic designers from around the world to alter (Photoshop) an image so that it reflected their perception of the ideal body size/shape.

The results are detailed in the *infographic below. Click on the image to view enlargement.

View table detailing weight ideals


*Image Source


Friday, September 11, 2015

Positive thinking has to be realistic thinking


You can achieve any goal if only you believe. Yes we can ... just do it ... you're worth it.

These are just some of the positive thinking mantras of out time. Having a PMA (positive mental attitude) is supposed to be the secret of success; a success all of us can attain.

The mantras I prefer however, don't sound quite so upbeat:
    - the future is uncertain
    - nothing lasts
    - success is never guaranteed
    - death could come at any moment

These remind us of the fragility of the good. They might sound negative in comparison to the feel-good slogans splattered on inspirational posters and shared on social media, but reminding ourselves of all that could go wrong is a good way of preparing us for setbacks ahead and making us appreciate when things go well more deeply.

In contrast, when we kid ourselves everything is going to be great, it's harder to cope when it isn't. Failure is harder to take when you never even admitted it was possible in the first place. But, the biggest lie of so called positive thinking is that success is in unlimited supply. There are many fields in which only a few can triumph. Millions can believe that they can win Wimbledon, but each year only one will.

Positive thinking has to be realistic thinking too. It must not be about deluding ourselves that our destinies are fully within our control. Rather, it should be about committing to try your best and knowing that is good enough; whether we succeed or not.


Monday, September 07, 2015

Fat shaming - Different viewpoints

In September's article we look at fat shaming from different viewpoints


Viewpoint of an overweight / obese woman:
29 year old housewife Sarah Rout weighs 26 stone. Speaking about her weight and associated experiences she states:

"A lot of people have basically slated me in the past, because they feel that Anthony (her husband) does more with Alfie. The reason why I stopped taking him to school was because some of them [other parents] have a problem with me, because of my size. I've had nasty comments I've been called a whore and a fat slag and stuff like that; that I shouldn't be a mother and that it's disgusting. Why should I lose weight to make everybody else happy you know, why should I?


Viewpoint of a physically fit male:
26 year old Christmas Riley [who runs a gym and tanning salon] believes that fat people should be made to lose weight.

“I personally wouldn't employ someone who is overweight or obese, because it's not an image that I want representing my brand or representing this gym and it kind of shows laziness”.

He’s views on overweight go beyond his business. "Overweight people should not be involved in health care. Nurses, midwives, doctors... it's unacceptable; we are supposed to be living by example".

Read Article