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Body shaming linked to multiple health risks

People who suffer from obesity are often the subject of stereotyping from the people around them. A new study published in Obesity has described how this form of prejudice can actually increase the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease amongst people with obesity. Some schools of thought support the theory that stigma can help motivate the individuals to lose weight, however this study has found that it might in fact have the opposite effect. The research involved 159 adults with obesity who completed questionnaires measuring depression, body shaming and the internalisation of this stigma.

It was found that ‘weight bias internalisation’ (which occurs when people apply negative stereotypes to themselves – such as laziness) and diagnosis of metabolic syndrome correlated. Furthermore, those who had been subject to body shaming were more likely to internalise weight bias, and therefore this exacerbated their weight problem. Dr Tom Wadden, co-author of the study, wanted to highlight that health care providers and the media play an important role in promoting weight loss and should therefore be aware that shaming people will have a negative effect on their overall health; in summary, patients with obesity need to be treated with respect and supported in order to improve their health and bring them back to a healthy weight.

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