Fat Shaming Linked to Greater Health Risks, Penn-led Study Finds
Body shaming is a pervasive form of prejudice, found in cyber bullying, critiques of celebrities' appearances, at work and school, and in public places for everyday Americans. People who are battling obesity face being stereotyped as lazy, incompetent, unattractive, lacking willpower, and to blame for their excess weight. The pain of these messages may take a toll on health and increase risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, according to a new study published in Obesity, the journal of The Obesity Society, led by a research team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The team led by Rebecca Pearl, PhD, an assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and colleagues from Penn's Center for Weight and Eating Disorders found that, above and beyond the effects of body mass index (BMI) and depression, higher levels of weight bias internalization were associated with increased risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease.
"There is a common misconception that stigma might help motivate individuals with obesity to lose weight and improve their health," Pearl said. "We are finding it has quite the opposite effect. When people feel shamed because of their weight, they are more likely to avoid exercise and consume more calories to cope with this stress. In this study, we identified a significant relationship between the internalization of weight bias and having a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, which is a marker of poor health."
Click here to read the full release.