Weight discrimination ups obesity risk

  • Deborah Condon

Being discriminated against because of weight does not motivate a person to lose weight. In fact, it is more likely to increase their risk of obesity, a new study suggests.

US scientists looked at more than 6,000 people who were assessed and measured in 2006 and again in 2010.

They found that people who were not obese, but who were discriminated against over their weight in 2006, were 2.5 times more likely to be obese by 2010.

Furthermore, people who were already obese in 2006 and were discriminated against, were also more likely to have remained obese in 2010 compared to those who were not discriminated against.

Other types of discrimination, such as gender and race, were taken into account but did not appear to be associated with weight. This was also the case for demographic factors such as age and education.

The researchers from Florida State University referred to this type of discrimination as ‘weightism'.

"In addition to the well-known emotional and economic costs, our results suggest that weight discrimination also increases risk of obesity. This could lead to a vicious cycle where individuals who are overweight and obese are more vulnerable to weight discrimination, and this discrimination may contribute to subsequent obesity and difficulties with weight management," they said.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, PLOS ONE.


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