The very weight we carry can change our perception of the space around us, reports the Guardian, with obese people seeing distances as being at least 10% greater than those of average weight do, report researchers from Colorado State University Fort Collins. In the journal Acta Psychologica they report that "it's what you weigh, not what you think." The obese are living in an "altered reality," reports the Telegraph, but co-author and psychologist Jessica Witt says this can happen to anyone. "If you find yourself out hiking with a heavy backpack, hills are going to look steeper, distances are going to look farther, gaps across a river are going to look longer," she says. "You’re not seeing the world as it is, you’re seeing the world in terms of your ability to act."
To test this, the researchers went to Walmart to recruit 66 obese people, and found that a 330-pound person sees 25 yards as 30. This weight bias works the other way, too—a 130-pound person sees that same distance as just 15 yards. Participants also performed worse at tasks when targets appeared smaller, and better when larger. "We think that these perceptual biases can create a vicious circle for people with obesity where they see the world as impossible to navigate," says Witt. "They will be less likely to choose to be active—and that’s going to continue in this unhealthy lifestyle." (Obesity is on the rise in every single country around the world.)