While competitive dieting may seem par for the course in the image-focused celebrity world, it can affect real women, too. Competitive dieting with your colleagues at work can create an environment of body comparison with worrying consequences for women who feel they don’t measure up…
Workplace weight-loss challenges are a valid method of addressing the millions of adults who are overweight or obese – but there is a vulnerable segment of young women in our society to consider who, when exposed to such a competitive weight-loss environment, may find it does more harm to their health than good.
A light-hearted office weight-loss competition can go too far. Consulting psychologist and clinical nutritionist Selina Byrne says there is potential for women who are predisposed to obsessive thinking about food to trigger past or existing problems, if their colleagues are suddenly focused on weight. ‘These people are not moderate thinkers,’ says Byrne. ‘I’ve seen people who get competitive (and resort to drastic measures). There are a lot of products on the market that have high levels of caffeine and other substances that are so-called metabolic boosters. Imagine what they do to the nervous system; they make people anxious and agitated – it can really upset stress hormones and mood. There are also women who do frequent colonic irrigation. They want to be the best at being slim.’