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I wonder how many times studies will need to come out and people will need to talk about the damage caused by panic mongering over the obesity crisis before the media stops covering it. I wonder if the media will ever stop sensationalizing fat.
Today I came across another article in U.S. News citing a small study that some women exposed to an article that appears to devalue fat people (how many of those do we see per day?) seems to spur people to overeat.
The study was designed to determine if people who felt stigmatized for being overweight were likely to eat more, due to resulting anxiety or frustration, said study author Brenda Major. She is a professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara…
Seeing media stories covering the so-called “obesity epidemic” and its potential impact on health care costs triggered Major’s interest in doing this study, she said. “There’s a frenzy about obesity in the media and there’s a negative, moralistic tone to the coverage,” she said.
Not surprising (to me at least) is that the results showed that presented with articles of how fat people were weak-willed or a high “cost to society” many of those studied turned to food for comfort. The article cited other studies that indicate women placed in a situation where they felt devalued because of their weight had higher blood pressure and studies showing that discrimination based on weight can lead to weight gain.
And just this week, another study was released by the Rudd Center regarding the effect of weight stigma on cortisol reactivity. What was truly fascinating about this study, is that perceived weight stigma affected the cortisol levels of all women, regardless of BMI. So in other words, women of all sizes carried significantly greater levels of stress hormones after a single incident of weight stigma. These stress hormones are related to many processes in the body including regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure.
All of which leads us to ask the question again. Why oh why oh why does the world feel that it is okay to stigmatize fat people for their own good. It doesn’t do fat people any good. And in fact, there is ever increasing evidence that weight stigma makes people less healthy and probably makes them gain weight.
I think we have to start to wonder what various people and groups are getting out of wagging their finger at the fat folks. Do they get a sense of superiority? Do they get higher ratings? Do I care why they do it? Nope. I just want them to stop.
Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)