According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Yet in a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, only 11 percent of those polled believed they fell into either category [source: Rowan].
So it's clear that the majority of Americans need a bit of a wake-up call when it comes to body image. Yet the messages that reach people regarding weight can often cause more harm than good. Consider this:
- The female body type that most frequently shows up in advertising as "ideal" is actually only possessed by 5 percent of American women.
- Forty-seven percent of 5th through 12th grade girls say they want to lose weight because of images they've seen in a magazine [source: ANAD].
- Up to 24 million people across a range of ages suffer from an eating disorder -- the mental illness with the highest mortality rate of all [source: ANAD].
Clearly, for thousands of people each year, dieting is not just a way to stay in shape; instead, it becomes an unhealthy obsession. The ironic result is that an activity that should be beneficial -- keeping fit and trim -- often winds up causing serious stress to both the mind and body.
Here, we examine five warning signs that a focus on one's weight has tipped the scales from healthy examination to dangerous fixation.