Tags: obesity | stigma | female | women

Female Obesity Stigma Lingers

Friday, 01 June 2012 12:49 PM

Overweight women face a lingering stigma, even after they lose the fat, new research suggests.
The study – led by the University of Hawaii, University of Manchester, and Monash University -- examined whether anti-fat prejudice against women persisted even after they had dropped the pounds and become thin.
For the study, researchers asked young men and women to read descriptions of women who had lost weight (70 pounds) or had remained weight stable, and who were either currently obese or thin. Participants were then asked how attractive they found the women, and their overall dislike for fat people.
The findings, published in the journal Obesity, indicated participants had stronger biases against obese people after reading about women who had lost weight than after reading about women who had remained weight stable, regardless of whether the women were currently thin or obese.
"We were surprised to find that currently thin women were viewed differently depending on their weight history," said lead researcher Dr. Janet Latner. "Those who had been obese in the past were perceived as less attractive than those who had always been thin, despite having identical height and weight."
Researchers said such views may suggest many individuals regard obesity as a character flaw.
"The message we often hear from society is that weight is highly controllable, but the best science in the obesity field at the moment suggests that one's physiology and genetics, as well as the food environment, are the really big players in one's weight status and weight-loss,” noted co-researcher Dr. Kerry O'Brien.
"Weight status actually appears rather uncontrollable, regardless of one's willpower, knowledge, and dedication. Yet many people who are perceived as 'fat' are struggling in vain to lose weight in order to escape this painful social stigma. We need to rethink our approaches to, and views of, weight and obesity."

© HealthDay

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Overweight women face persistent prejudice, even after they lose the pounds.
Friday, 01 June 2012 12:49 PM
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