There’s no denying obesity is a problem. While we know many ways to fight it, we haven’t found an easy, cure-all solution. We do know what doesn’t work however. One of those things may surprise you: hating on fat people won’t make them skinnier.
While it’s rude, you may think being teased about weight may help provide motivation to lose weight. Instead it does just the opposite. Calling people out about their weight or discriminating against people in some way due to weight, like not being able to ride a roller coaster or sit comfortably on a plane, doesn’t provide anything positive. Weight discrimination may sound like just another excuse for obesity, but the truth is weight discrimination is as common as racial discrimination.
Researchers actually performed a study that measured this situation. 6,000 adults over the age of 50 were asked how often they were discriminated against and what they thought the reason was. Four years later they asked the same questions. Researchers also looked at participants change in weight over the 4 year period.
For those that had thought they experienced discrimination based on weight, 4 years later they were twice as likely to be obese. Those that were already obese at the onset of the study were 3 times more likely to remain obese if they felt discriminated against based on their weight. Discrimination based on race or age didn’t affect weight.
While this doesn’t sound like it has much relevance beyond teaching your kids to mind their manners and be nice, it may help researchers better understand the psychological and emotional sides of obesity. Factors such as depression, low self-esteem, emotional eating, and stress all play a role in the obesity picture. Understanding the different facets that lead people to pack on the pounds can help lead to a more realistic solution. Plus, as parents, it’s helpful to remember when we’re trying to raise our daughters- nagging them to lose weight will likely backfire, in more ways than one.
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