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Shame around your weight can do more harm than you realize.

There are many ways that weight stigma can manifest. It’s prevalent in media and entertainment, at school and work, and even in health care, where providers fat-shame patients in the name of “health.”

More evidence is showing that people who fat shame others may not only be emotionally hurtful, but can also cause them to gain weight. Particularly vulnerable are women.

small new studyA study presented recently at the American Heart Association annual conference showed that even though women weigh less than men, they are still more likely to report feeling stigmatized over their abdomen fat. This internalized stigma about weight was associated with additional weight gain.

“Some people who struggle with managing their weight may devalue themselves based on external messages from society telling them they are unattractive, self-indulgent or weak-willed because they weigh more,” lead study author Natalie Keirns, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Oklahoma State University, said in a statement. “When these ‘anti-fat’ messages are internalized, people often feel shame, which in turn, may make them vulnerable to weight gain.”

Fat Shaming and the dangers

There are limitations to the new research, such as its limited size (only 70 participants), and that it is a cross-sectional study. This means it only relies on one point of time data and cannot establish cause and effects.

Researchers believe that it raises interesting questions about the relationship between weight stigmatization and weight gain. One hypothesis is that people who have been shamed for what they weigh might be less likely to seek out medical care — particularly if they’ve had health care providers make them feel bad about their weight before. To cope with this kind of stigmatization, they might be more inclined to resort to unhealthy behavior.

It is possible that there may be an underlying physiological link between weight loss and stigma.

“Shame, specifically as an emotion, is related to human stress response,” Keirns said. “When we feel shame, our production of cortisol increases, which can lead to the accumulation of visceral fat.”

Consider weight as a measurement of your health

Keirns believes that her study, together with the co-researchers, is the first one to establish a correlation between internalized fat stigma and visceral. Visceral fat is a particular type of deeper abdominal fat that surrounds a person’s organs, and has been linked to serious health outcomes, like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Many experts warn that this kind of abdominal fat has been a problem for many years. “dangerous.”

But at the same time, doctors and researchers are reexamining the relationship between weight and health, or at least arguing that it’s a whole lot more nuanced than many of us have been led to believe.

Using a person’s body mass index, or BMI, as a measure of health has been criticized not just for being overly simplistic, but also for being inherently racist and sexist. Studies also show that too much emphasis on weight can lead to missing the main point.

One recent scientific review foundIt is more important to predict whether someone will live long and healthy lives than how much they weight. It is important to remember that physical activity has a greater impact on predicting if a person will live a long and healthy life than their weight. one of the researchers behind that study said: “We would like people to know that fat can be fit, and that fit and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.”

Researchers behind this new study hope that doctors will pay more attention to healthy behavior than weight loss. “Healthy” behaviors can include getting more physical activityYardwork, running, and yoga are all considered activities. Eating more fruits and veggies is possible, but not necessarily. establishing a heart-healthy bedtime.

“Among health care professionals, we need to be more aware of our assumptions and how weight bias can negatively affect our patients,” Keirns said.


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