Fat-shaming can lead to even more weight gain

15 September 2014

Commenting on an overweight person putting on kilo's may cause them to become obese, new research has discovered.

A study conducted by University College London found that those criticised for their weight would result in an already insecure person comfort eating even more, and avoiding exercise at the fear of ridicule.

Researchers studied around 3,000 English women and men aged 50 and over, who were weighed once then again four years later. On top of this participants were quizzed on whether they'd received negative criticism over their weight, such as being treated with disrespect, being on the other end of bad service in places such as shops and restaurants and being labelled as unintelligent.

From the results around five percent admitted to being treated differently due to their looks, going up to 36 percent of the most overweight individuals.

Overall the study, which was published in the Obesity journal, documented that 'fat shaming' triggered people to put on over 2lbs on average during the entire course of the study, and those largely overweight were six times as likely to become obese.

Sarah Jackson, who led the experiment, believes there are ways to solve this issue. She believes the media should avoid using the word 'fat', and urges people to stop any discrimination they may hold.

"Our results show that weight discrimination does not encourage weight loss and suggest that it may even exacerbate weight gain," she explained.

Here are tips to help on talking to your child about their weight:

It’s important to recognise the problem and do something about it, says Kerry Lynn Sparrow, a social worker of Johannesburg.

1. “Let the right person initiate the conversation,” says Kerry Lynn. If the child is close to one of his or her parents it would be best for this parent to speak to him or her.

2. Put the focus on good health. “Instead of jumping in and talking about the child’s weight, start by discussing health.”

3. Involve the family. A sensitive approach to your child’s weight problem is to get everyone in the family involved.Suggest that the family goes walking together and gets fit – and adapt the whole family’s eating habits.

4. If you’re worried about your child’s weight, consult a doctor and find out if thyroid or hormonal problems are playing a role.

Use these links for healthy eating plans for your children:

Healthy eating plan for teen son

Healthy eating plan for teen daughter

© Cover Media; Mieke Vlok

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