Fat Prejudice Can Occur Even After Weight Loss

That prejudice is still felt by women who have lost weight shows that the general public needs to be better informed about the difficulties in maintaining a healthy weight.


Overweight women are tainted with the stigma of obesity even after they’ve lost a significant amount of weight, a revealing study has discovered.

The large study, conducted by researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Manchester and Monash University, discovered that large women continue to receive anti-fat prejudice even after they lost weight and are now slim.

During the study, researchers asked a group of participants to read descriptions of women who had either lost up to 70 pounds (32kg), had remained the same weight for a long period of time and those who were currently obese or thin.

Volunteers were quizzed on their opinions about the women’s attributes – such as how attractive they found them and their view on obese people.

Researchers were surprised to discover that participants expressed a greater bias against overweight people after reading about women who had lost weight than after reading about women who had remained a stable weight – regardless of whether they were fat or thin.

It was clear from the findings that people who were obese in the past, were perceived to be less attractive than those who have always been thin, despite having identical weight.

The study author were further shocked when the negative attitudes towards obese people increased after being (falsely) informed that weight is ‘easily controlled’.

Talking about the results, co-author Dr Kerry O’Brien said in a statement: “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.

“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.”

Researchers believe these findings reflect on how powerful obesity stigma is to people who’ve been overweight and that it appears to overshadow the obesity itself.

Article from: The Huffington Post UK, written by Kyrsty Hazell (30/05/12)