Early and Ongoing Experiences of Weight Stigma Linked to Self-Directed Weight Shaming

Posted on July 20, 2019

People who are troubled by their weight might end up internalising the weight bias, which is a prejudice against people who are overweight or obese. By internalising this stigma, the mental and physical health of these individuals can be worsened. A recent study carried out by researchers from Penn Medicine and the University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity sought to identify individuals who are more prone to self-stigma related to weight issues.

18,000 adults who participated in a commercial weight management program were asked to complete a survey and were told to describe moments where they received weight stigma from others as well as rate how they felt about it.

Findings indicated that more than half of the participants had experienced stigmatisation due to their weight at least once in their lives. Some of them went through these encounters when they were adolescents.

Subjects who have experienced weight stigma from others were more likely to internalise the weight bias than those who have not. Those who started experiencing this stigmatisation early in their lives also had a higher chance of internalising the weight bias in the future, especially when the weight shaming came from family members or friends. Furthermore, participants who have been found to internalise the weight bias are often young and have a higher body mass index. Individuals who are in a romantic relationship were less likely to internalise this bias.

Such internalisation can be detrimental for individuals, as it might lead to depression and other mental disorders. Self-stigmatising is also linked to higher risks for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The findings enable us to be able to identify people who are at risk of self-stigmatisation and help us to appropriately direct them to treatment.


Source material from Science Daily

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