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'Fat Shaming' Doesn't Encourage Weight Loss: Study

Update Date: Sep 11, 2014 09:09 AM EDT

Discrimination against overweight and obese people doesn't help them to lose weight, according to a new study. 

The study followed up around 3,000 UK adults over the four years and found that people experiencing weight discrimination gained more weight than those who did not. 

The study found that, on average, after accounting for baseline differences, people who reported weight discrimination gained 0.95kg whereas those who did not lost 0.71kg, a difference of 1.66kg, the press release added.

The study also contradicted the common perception that discrimination or 'fat shaming' might encourage weight loss. 

"There is no justification for discriminating against people because of their weight," said lead author Dr Sarah Jackson (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health), in the press release. "Our results show that weight discrimination does not encourage weight loss, and suggest that it may even exacerbate weight gain.

"Previous studies have found that people who experience discrimination report comfort eating. Stress responses to discrimination can increase appetite, particularly for unhealthy, energy-dense food. Weight discrimination has also been shown to make people feel less confident about taking part in physical activity, so they tend to avoid it."

 "Our study clearly shows that weight discrimination is part of the obesity problem and not the solution. Weight bias has been documented not only among the general public but also among health professionals; and many obese patients report being treated disrespectfully by doctors because of their weight. Everyone, including doctors, should stop blaming and shaming people for their weight and offer support, and where appropriate, treatment," senior author Professor Jane Wardle, director of the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Centre at UCL, said in the press release.

Findings of the study were published in the journal Obesity

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