The ‘war on obesity’ is becoming personalised as the ‘fight against fat women’ says Women’s Health Victoria, who is calling for greater understanding and awareness of the link between women’s mental health and their relationship with food.
Women’s Health Victoria have drawn their conclusions in the Women and Food Issues Paper published on 8 October 2012, wherein the government funded health organisation explores various aspects of women’s health relating to food.
“Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are serious mental illnesses, affecting more women than men. Women struggle with unhealthy eating behaviours, many from a young age, in an attempt to fit a culturally acceptable slim ideal. This ideal is completely out of reach for most women,” said Women’s Health Victoria Policy and Health Promotion Manager, Rose Durey.
“Women who are overweight or obese experience various forms of stigmatisation that stop them participating in healthy pursuits such as physical activity and social events,” she said. “In turn this has further negative impact on their mental health.”
Ms Durey says the other barriers to a healthy diet and exercise are related to women’s social and economic environment.
“Income is a key factor in food insecurity and this affects more women than men. The risk of obesity is estimated to be 20 to 40 percent higher for women who experience mild to moderate food insecurity. Food insecurity is associated with anxiety and depression.”
“We need to look at the underlying forces at play that keep women on the merry-go-round of body dissatisfaction and poor mental health. These forces are complex. We need to challenge gender stereotypes and ensure women have equal access to economic opportunities.”
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