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Dear Kristen Hovet,
Thank you for your response and sharing your thoughts on this issue.
Other colleagues have commented on the issues you have raised concerning weight misperception and its relation to weight gain and health behaviours (see, e.g., Professor Tiffany Stewart's corresponding Commentary in the same issue of Obesity). The focus of my blog article is specifically on the claim that the body-positive movement is contributing to the "obesity crisis."
What I find perplexing is that this study is (still) perceived to have tested the relationship between the body-positive movement and weight misperception. You mentioned that you understood that the "relationship between acceptance of overweight/obesity and misperception of weight is a correlation." Yet, Dr Muttarak's research only looked at changes in weight misperception across time. Nothing relating to acceptance of overweight/obesity, nor the body-positive movement has been assessed. Yes, correlation is an important first step in the scientific process, but none such correlations were tested in Dr Muttarak's research.
In a similar vein, you mention that it is necessary to look at any societal movements that could contribute to obesity/overweight. Again, this study did not directly test the relationship or impact of any societal movements on contributions to obesity/overweight.
What I find problematic, with regard to the body image aspect of this discussion, is that the paper and your press release suggest that there is evidence (from this research) to point toward the causal relationship between the body-positive movement and obesity/overweight. In fact, the very title of your press release makes this claim: "Normalisation of ‘plus-size’ risks hidden danger of obesity." This is what I referred to as the "sloppy" aspect. Most people who read your press release will not have the time to access, read, and understand the scientific research behind your headline, and will thus go with the assumption that science has indeed discovered this relation. Again, as I stated, this is untrue.
Dr Jessica Alleva
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