There is a common perception amongst people that making overweight and obese individuals feel ashamed about their looks and appearance will motivate them to adapt a healthier life style. In some cases, people indulge in the act of criticizing overweight people simply to have fun by making a joke of their uneven and obese body. Irrespective of the reasons for fat shamming, the sad fact is that it can lead to an increased risk of various health issues amongst obese individuals. A study published in The Obesity Society Journal has established a connection between the fat shamming and its ill effects on health.
About The Study
The study was carried out by a team of researchers belonging to the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. As a part of the research, 159 obese adults, comprising primarily of African American women, were examined by experts. The participants were required to complete a basic questionnaire aimed at measuring internalization of depression and weight bias before the provision of any intervention. According to the study, weight bias internalization happens when people start believing the negative comments and remarks they receive with respect to their obesity. This essentially means that people start believing that they are unattractive, lazy incompetent, lack willpower and are unfit to perform specific tasks.
In addition to completing the questionnaire, the participants were also subjected to various health examinations to diagnose the presence of metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of health risk factors. These factors include blood pressure, high triglycerides as well as waist circumference, each of which is related to problems such as heart disease, type II diabetes, and other health problems related to obesity. However, the researchers failed to obtain any results by studying the whole group of participants as a single unit.
Then the researchers divided the participants into two groups based on the level of weight bias internalization. They then found that the possibility of metabolic syndrome was three times higher in people with high levels of internalization as compared to those with low internalization. The researchers also learnt that participants from the “high” group were six times likely to have high triglycerides than the participants from the “low” group.
Understanding The Results
The said study clearly indicated a connection between fat shamming and health risks associated with obesity. Researchers concluded that obese people, who are regularly exposed to weight bias, tend to experience a deeper negative impact of the same on their physical and mental well being. This can not only destroy their sense of self confidence but also increase the risk of serious health issues such as heart disease and increased inflammation and cortisol levels. Moreover, it might push the overweight people towards adapting unhealthy behaviors such as indulging in overeating and even restricting their physical activity in a significant manner.
The researchers agreed that the study presented enough proof of the fact that fat shamming has a far deeper and more physical effect than just hurting the feelings of overweight individuals. They also believed that the level of negative health affect depended on the sensitivity acceptance by the obese individuals of the remarks and taunts that they are exposed to on a regular basis.
What Needs To Be Done
According to the researchers, it is important to create awareness within the society and especially the loved ones of obese people about the sensitivity of the issue. It is important for the loved ones as well as the general public to stop making overweight people feels ashamed about their looks and disregarding their efforts, irrespective of how minor these might be. Rather, people need to put in collaborative efforts to help such individuals improve their health behavior and obtain the weight loss goals they have set for themselves.