A “fat shaming” study suggested this week that the prejudice doesn’t help people lose weight. Experts in the study warn that branding people fat “is part of the obesity problem and not the solution.”
While some may consider fat shaming a way of being “cruel to be kind,” the study suggests that it can lead to overweight people eating more. The Telegraph reports that the study warns against shaming those who are overweight because the negativity doesn’t encourage them to slim down.
The study followed 2,944 British adults over four years. It found that those who experienced day-to-day “weight discrimination” were more likely to gain weight than those who did not.
Dr. Sarah Jackson, of University College London, one of the study authors, explained that much of the “fat shaming” problem had to do with the “language of blame” by doctors and well-meaning family and friends.
“Most people who are overweight are aware of it already and don’t need it pointed out to them. Telling them they are fat isn’t going to help – it is just going to make them feel worse.”
The “fat shaming” study provides more evidence for why weight discrimination is harmful. It has been linked to behaviors that lead to weight gain, such as comfort eating. Jackson noted that fat shaming also makes people feel less confident about engaging in physical activity, notes Fox News.
Tam Fry with the National Obesity Forum praised the study, noting that “[fat] shaming is totally wrong.” Fry added, “What is needed is tough love, which means not shying away from the issue but not finger pointing and blaming.”
The study found that those who reported experiencing weight discrimination gained an average of 2 pounds, while those who did not lost an average of 1.6 pounds. Morbidly obese respondents were most likely to experience fat shaming, with 36 percent reporting some form of prejudice against them.
Experts warn that people who are already overweight are at a greater risk of being on a “slippery slope” towards possibly life-threatening obesity.
A spokesman for Cancer Research UK, which funded the study, added.
“It’s that difficult thing, that slippery slope, but from our perspective it’s about trying to reduce the number of people who get to that point in the first place.”
The study on fat shaming contradicts the common idea that discrimination, like fat shaming, could stimulate weight loss. Instead, if the study is true then fat shaming does the opposite.
[Image: New York Daily News]