Americans are now larger than ever, and predicted to become even larger over the next few decades. Along with the rise in obesity has come a rise in associated health problems and costs. Medical professionals across the U.S. are now searching for strategies to motivate weight loss in the population. According to a new study out this week, shaming patients into weight loss should not be one of those strategies.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that weight discrimination could increase the risk for obesity rather than motivate lifestyle changes. Researchers at the Florida State University College of Medicine looked at over 6,000 study participants, comparing their height and weight measured in 2006 and 2010.
The results found that study participants who claimed to have faced weight discrimination were 2.5 times more likely to become obese during those four years. In addition, those participants who were already obese in 2006 and faced weight discrimination were more likely to remain so in 2010.
“In addition to the well-known emotional and economic costs, our results suggest that weight discrimination also increases risk of obesity,” said Angelina Sutin, lead author of the study and a professor at Florida State. “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.”
Discrimination such as sex and race was not shown to have the same correlation with obesity that weight discrimination did. The study took into account other factors such as the age and gender of study participants.