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People Hate Fat-Talkers, Study Finds

Update Date: May 09, 2013 10:19 AM EDT
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No one likes a fat-talker, a new study has confirmed.

Researchers recently found that women who engage in "fat talk" are less liked by their peers. According to a new study, women who make self-disparaging comments about their bodies or eating and exercise habits are judged as less likeable than those who didn't engage in "fat talk".

For the study, researchers presented college-age women with a series of photographs of either noticeably thin or noticeably overweight women engaging in either "fat talk" or positive body talk.  The participants were then asked to rate the women on various dimensions, including how likeable they were.

The study revealed that women who made "fat talk" statements about their bodies were rated as significantly less likable, whether or not they were overweight, than women who didn't.

"Though it has become a regular part of everyday conversation, 'fat talk' is far from innocuous," lead researcher Alexandra Corning, research associate professor of psychology and director of Notre Dame's Body Image and Eating Disorder Lab said in a news release.

"It is strongly associated with, and can even cause, body dissatisfaction, which is a known risk factor for the development of eating disorders," she added.

While some psychologists believe "fat talk" is a way some women attempt to initiate and strengthen their social bonds, the latest research suggests otherwise.  Corning and her team found that fat-talkers are liked less than women who make positive statement about their bodies.

"These findings are important because they raise awareness about how women actually are being perceived when they engage in this self-abasing kind of talk," Corning explained. "This knowledge can be used to help national efforts to reduce 'fat talking' on college campuses."

The latest findings were presented recently at the Midwestern Psychological Association annual conference.

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