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Keeping my current weight has been one of my constant goals (and fight :)) Staying motivated is a heck of a job in the business of  exercising and dieting. Of course, making it a part of one’s new year resolution is motivating. Taking about resolutions, I just heard this story on NPR: “Can Skinny Models Undermine Your Dieting Goals?

Posting a picture like this on the fridge might seem like good motivation for weight loss. But scientists say it might instead inspire weight gain. Picture source: iStockphoto.com

The millions of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight often have pictures in mind. They’re pictures that have been repeatedly supplied by the health and beauty magazines at supermarket checkout lines. They feature skinny models in bikinis, or toned guys with six-pack abs, and captions about how you could look like this by summer.

“There’s one commercial for a cereal brand which actually targets women that want to lose weight,” said Anne Klesse, a researcher at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. “And in this commercial, there’s a woman who wants to fit in a very nice dress. And to make herself more motivated, she puts a picture of a skinny model wearing this dress on her fridge and on the vending machine.”

However, it has not been clear if these motivating pictures help us achieving our weight managing goals. The story based on a recently published paper, “Repeated exposure to the thin ideal and implications for the self: Two weight loss program studies” by Dr.Anne-Kathrin Klesse in Internal Journal of Research in Marketing, says that those pictures are worse than useless in motiving weight losing. Actually, “the researchers found that it was the skinny model that caused dieters to gain weight“.

This does not seems straight forward to me. The research provides one potential explanation:

“Being constantly exposed before and after eating, every time I am writing in my diary, I am reminded of a very skinny model, the idea comes up that it is not attainable for me,” Klesse said.

I was not sold on the argument. In addition, I was wondering why such a topic is published in a journal about marketing, instead of something like health or psychology. So I decided to see how the experiment is conducted to reach these conclusions. (more…)

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