Fat jibes on obese people don't spur them to lose weight

A new study has revealed that discrimination against overweight and obese people does not help them to lose weight.

ANI| Updated: Sep 11, 2014, 13:12 PM IST

Washington: A new study has revealed that discrimination against overweight and obese people does not help them to lose weight.

According to the study of 2,944 UK adults over four years by UCL, people who reported experiencing weight discrimination gained more weight than those who did not, while 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 research that contradicts the common perception that discrimination or 'fat shaming' might encourage weight loss. The study asked people whether they experienced day-to-day discrimination that they attributed to their weight. Examples of discrimination include being treated disrespectfully, receiving poor service in shops, and being harassed.

The data are from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a study of adults aged 50 or older. Of the 2,944 eligible participants in the study, 5 percent reported weight discrimination. This ranged from less than 1percent of those in the 'normal weight' category to 36 percent of those classified as 'morbidly obese'. Men and women reported similar levels of weight discrimination.

Researchers said that the results show that weight discrimination does not encourage weight loss , and suggest that it may even exacerbate weight gain and 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.

The study was published in the journal Obesity.