Making overweight or obese people feel bad about their bodies does anything but make it easier to drop the pounds. In fact, the narcissistic practice of fat shaming may be making people gain more weight.
A new study from Florida State University College of Medicine found that people who experience body-shaming were more likely to either become or stay obese.
“Participants who experienced weight discrimination were approximately 2.5 times more likely to become obese by follow-up,” said the four-year study, published this week in PLoS ONE.
“The present research demonstrates that, in addition to poorer mental health outcomes, weight discrimination has implications for obesity. Rather than motivating individuals to lose weight, weight discrimination increases risk for obesity."
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"Stigma and discrimination are really stressors, and, unfortunately, for many people, they're chronic stressors,” said Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. "And we know that eating is a common reaction to stress and anxiety — that people often engage in more food consumption or more binge eating in response to stressors."
In America, about 70 percent of adults are overweight and more than one third are obese. Last month, the American Medical Associations decided to label obesity a “disease.”
According to the study, internalizing weight-based stereotypes, teasing and other stigmatizing experiences are linked to depression and binge eating. Stress, including heightened public awareness, is also linked to weight gain.
“Weight discrimination, in addition to being hurtful and demeaning, has real consequences for the individual’s physical health,” said study author Angelina Sutin, a psychologist and assistant professor at the Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, Fla.
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“And we know that eating is a common reaction to stress and anxiety -- that people often engage in more food consumption or more binge eating in response to stressors, so there is a logical connection here in terms of some of the maladaptive coping strategies to try to deal with the stress of being stigmatized," Sutin said.