herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Experts warn on dangers of 'fat-shaming'

Fat-shaming does not help people lose weight, experts have said.

Making obese people feel bad about their size does not encourage them to shed excess pounds - and may even make them put on more.

A study published in the journal Obesity saw almost 3,000 UK adults monitored over a four-year period.

discrimination

Experts found that the 5pc who experienced "weight discrimination" gained an average of 0.95kg over the time frame while those who did not lost an average of 0.71kg.

The researchers from University College London (UCL) said their findings contradict the common perception that "fat shaming" helps people lose weight and suggested that people may "comfort eat" as a result of being discriminated against because of their weight.

"There is no justification for discriminating against people because of their weight," said Dr Sarah Jackson from UCL.

"Weight discrimination does not encourage weight loss, it may even exacerbate gain.

"Previous studies have found people who experience discrimination report comfort eating.

"Weight discrimination has also been shown to make people feel less confident about taking part in physical activity, so they tend to avoid it."

Prof Jane Wardle, director of the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Centre at UCL, added: "Weight discrimination is part of the obesity problem and not the solution.

"Weight bias has been documented not only among the public but among health professionals, and many obese patients report being treated disrespectfully by doctors.

"Everyone, including doctors, should stop blaming and shaming people for their weight and offer support and, where appropriate, treatment."

hnews@herald.ie

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