Study says plus-size could be adding to obesity epidemic
Retailers’ decisions to add plus-sizes ranges to their core offering has come under scrutiny after new research warned this week that they may be undermining efforts to tackle England’s obesity problem.
Plus-size fashion has become a new category for many retailers over the last years, with the likes of M&S, Asos, Mango and New Look all launching dedicated styles for curvier women.
But a study from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) has suggested that the normalisation of plus-size body shapes could be leading to an increasing number of people underestimating their weight.
According to data from almost 23,460 overweight or obese people, weight misperception is growing in England, particularly among men and individuals with lower levels of education and income. People who underestimate their weight status are less likely to try to lose weight to improve their overall health.
“Seeing the huge potential of the fuller-sized fashion market, retailers may have contributed to the normalisation of being overweight and obese,” said Dr Raya Muttarak from the University of East Anglia.
“While this type of body positive movement helps reduce stigmatisation of larger-sized bodies, it can potentially undermine the recognition of being overweight and its health consequences. The increase in weight misperception in England is alarming and possibly a result of this normalisation.”
Marks & Spencer is one of the latest brands to launch a plus-size collection. Called Curve, the range was introduced in January following insights from more than 2,000 women.
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