Although fat shaming can take the shape of overt harassment or belittlement, it often takes more subtle and insidious forms. Overweight and obese people face discrimination in restaurants, retail establishments and even doctor’s offices ranging from admonishing glances to being outright ignored. And despite the fact that this type of mistreatment is unacceptable on a human level, a new study shows that it goes beyond mere rudeness and actually can deter people from making a healthy lifestyle change. In fact, studies show that people who face discrimination due to their weight are more than twice as likely to become obese within a few years.
The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing looked at over 3,000 adults aged 50 and over. During the initial interview, 5 percent of the respondents reported that they had been victims of discrimination due to their weight. Of the participants, researchers found that those individuals who had reported discrimination gained an average of two pounds per year over a four-year period. While those people who had not faced discrimination lost an average of 1.5 pounds annually.
The direct correlation between fat shaming and weight gain is made evident by this study. The leading theory contends that the shame and embarrassment that overweight people suffer due to mistreatment leads to comfort eating. Not just emotionally driven, comfort eating often entails the consumption of dense, high-caloric, carbohydrate centered foods.
Additionally, people who face derision because of their appearance are less apt to engage in physical activity or exercise. In addition to the lethargy that comes from the resulting depression of a poor self- image, people who face fat shaming become hyper self-conscious and tend to shy away from exercising in front of others.
Both of these explanations illustrate how being spurned due to their weight can lead individuals to make poor dietary and lifestyle choices. This cause and effect traps overweight people in a cycle of weight gain and the subsequent discrimination that ultimately leads to more weight gain. The director of the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Centre at University College London, Jane Wardle states, “Everyone, including doctors, should stop blaming and shaming people for their weight and offer support and, where appropriate, treatment”.
If you are ready to break the cycle, call us today and let us help you make a healthy lifestyle change and take control of your life for good.