Is Dieting Passe? Study Finds Fewer Overweight People Try To Lose Weight : The Salt Some health experts worry about what this trend means for chronic diseases linked to obesity. Others see an upside: Diets often fail, but a healthy body image can lead to healthy outcomes.
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Is Dieting Passe? Study Finds Fewer Overweight People Try To Lose Weight

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Is Dieting Passe? Study Finds Fewer Overweight People Try To Lose Weight

Is Dieting Passe? Study Finds Fewer Overweight People Try To Lose Weight

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/519080766/519170719" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And now let's ask a question raised by new research in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Here's the question - are diets becoming passe? NPR's Allison Aubrey reports that as the number of Americans who are overweight has grown, fewer of them say they are trying to do something about it.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: It used to be that if you asked overweight people in the U.S. whether they're trying to lose weight, majority of them said yes. But that has changed. According to new data, just under 50 percent say they're trying. Now, this change doesn't surprise Cynthia Rodriguez. She weighs more than she'd like to, but she says she doesn't feel the pressure to diet anymore.

CYNTHIA RODRIGUEZ: My family still loves me, and my friends do too. So it's not like I feel bad about how I look.

AUBREY: Her story maps well with what the new federal data shows. She says she's tried to diet in the past, but she just didn't lose weight.

C. RODRIGUEZ: It's kind of like - it's in your mind as like - it's a negative thing, like a punishment.

AUBREY: These days, Cynthia says she's trying to exercise more and be healthy. But that doesn't mean she wants to be skinny. She says not everyone needs to be a size 2. And her sister Rosa says, with more overweight people around, there's a new norm.

ROSA RODRIGUEZ: If you feel well with the body that you have - you know, be it size 2, size 10, size 16 - it's just being comfortable.

AUBREY: So did the singer Meghan Trainor tap into a trend with this song that celebrates bigger bodies?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL ABOUT THAT BASS")

MEGHAN TRAINOR: (Singing) 'Cause every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top. Yeah, my mama...

AUBREY: Janet Tomiyama is a researcher at UCLA. She says the strong anti-fat bias in our culture may be shifting.

JANET TOMIYAMA: I do think there may be a sea change toward pushing back against body shaming and fat shaming.

AUBREY: This month, Vogue magazine put a plus-size model on its cover, and the fashion world is also putting curvier models on the runway.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Paris Fashion Week sets the shape of things to come in the fashion world. And this year...

AUBREY: It's possible that today, with growing acceptance of bigger body sizes, fewer overweight people want to diet. The downside, researchers say, is people may overlook or ignore the very real health problems tied to obesity. But Tomiyama says that's not necessarily the case.

TOMIYAMA: Maybe people are, you know, taking the focus off the number on the scale and going more towards focusing on their health.

AUBREY: She says crash diets focused on weight loss often fail. But she says a healthy body image can set the stage for good habits and lead to a healthier life.

Allison Aubrey, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF TIM ATLAS' "COMPROMISED")

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