You may think that shaming someone into losing weight would be a good idea, but the truth is that fat-shaming could actually have the reverse effect.
According to new research published in the medical journal Obesity fat-shaming could increase the risk of heart attack.
Rebecca Pearl, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, talking about the findings had this to say:
“There is a common misconception that stigma might help motivate individuals with obesity to lose weight and improve their health.”
“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 internalisation of weight bias and having a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, which is a marker of poor health.”
What research was undertaken?
This study looked at 159 obese adults who had enrolled onto a larger clinical trial looking at the effects of weight loss medication.
They were given a questionnaire that measured depression and “weight bias internalisation”.
These participants were also tested for metabolic syndrome, other risk factors and health problems.
The research found that those who had a very negative impression of their size were most likely to have metabolic syndrome, and were also 6 times more likely to have high triglycerides, or blood fats.
Those who suffer with symptoms tend to have excess body fat around their waist, as well as high blood pressure and blood sugar levels, which puts them at risk of heart disease and other problems.
How can fat-shaming lead to ill health?
Fat or body shaming is said to be a “pervasive form of prejudice”, which is similar to cyber bullying, or the ridicule some will encounter at school or at work.
Those who are overweight are often labelled as lazy, incompetent and unattractive, with those who internalise these negative stereotypes likely to resort to comfort eating, which will only exacerbate the problem.
As their weight increases they are faced with an increased risk of developing various life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.