Shaming obese people on weight issues does not motivate them to lose weight, researchers have found.
The study, conducted by the researchers at the Florida State University College of Medicine, found that weight discrimination rather increased the risk of adding further pounds.
“Rather than motivating individuals to lose weight, weight discrimination increases risk for obesity,” the researchers wrote in an article released Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.
For the purpose of the study, researchers looked at more than 6,000 participants, comparing their height and weight recorded first in 2006 and then in 2010.
Participants were also required to provide details of weight discrimination experienced, if any. Discrimination was measured by self-rating of everyday experiences and attributing them to personal characteristics such as weight, gender or age.
Using body mass index of 30 as dividing line, participants were classified as obese or not obese at the start of the study. 4,193 were not obese in 2006, while others were, researchers highlighted.
Analysis revealed that, of the participants who were not obese in 2006, 357 became so by the follow-up.
Participants who experienced weight discrimination were more than twice more likely to add pounds by the follow-up assessment in 2010.
Furthermore, obese participants who had experienced weight discrimination before the first assessment (in 2006) were more likely to remain obese thereafter as against to those who had not experienced such weight jibes.
“In addition to the well-known emotional and economic costs, our results suggest that weight discrimination also increases risk of obesity. This could lead to a vicious cycle where individuals who are overweight and obese are more vulnerable to weight discrimination, and this discrimination may contribute to subsequent obesity and difficulties with weight management, study’s lead researcher, Angelina Sutin, from the Florida State University College of Medicine noted.
“There is robust evidence that internalizing weight-based stereotypes, teasing and stigmatizing experiences are associated with more frequent binge eating,” Sutin explained. “There also may be physiological mechanisms at work, as the body reacts to the stress of discrimination,”