Commenting on an overweight person putting on pounds 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 (0,9 kg) 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.
"Previous studies have shown that people who experience discrimination report comfort eating. Stress responses to discrimination can increase appetite, particularly for unhealthy, energy-dense food. Weight discrimination has also been shown to make people feel less confident about taking part in physical activity, so they tend to avoid it.
"People may not feel comfortable going to the gym if they think they are being judged because of their weight."
Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, believes medics and doctors should make those overweight more aware of the consequences, with it leading to illnesses such as type 2 diabetes.
"If you are aggressive with the way you put the message across and denigrate and tease, you are not going to get anywhere at all. What you need is tough love," he added.
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