Study: 'Fat Shaming' Doesn't Encourage Obese People to Lose Weight

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According to a new study, "fat shaming" may be preventing people from losing weight. In fact, it puts them at an increased risk for remaining obese. 

The study, published in scientific journal PLOS ONE, finds that there are "behavioral and physiological mechanisms" that relate to discrimination and obesity. 

"There is robust evidence that internalizing weight-based stereotypes, teasing, and stigmatizing experiences are associated with more frequent binge eating. Overeating is a common emotion-regulation strategy, and those who feel the stress of stigmatization report that they cope with it by eating more," the study reports

6,157 Americans participated in the research, which was conducted from 2006 to 2010. The study included various body types of people over the age of 50. Participants that weren't obese at the original 2006 check-in, but experienced weight discrimination afterwards, "were approximately 2.5 times more likely to be obese by follow-up than those who did not report weight discrimination." Furthermore, participants who were already obese "were over three times more likely to remain obese at follow-up, rather than drop below the obesity threshold" due to weight discrimination.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7 percent of U.S. adults are obese, and 17 percent age two to 19 are obese. 

With the American Medical Association now recognizing obesity a disease, overweight or obese people likely don't need fat shaming as a motivation to lose weight, or to recognize that their health is in trouble. 

"Weight discrimination has the greatest consequences for risk of obesity among those who are overweight or obese, which are the groups most likely to experience weight discrimination," the study says.


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