Fat Hatred Is Unhealthy for Fat People

[Content Note: Fat hatred.]

This is something I—and other fat activists—have been saying for a very long time, and now there is research to back it up: Fat hatred is unhealthy for fat people.
Weight discrimination is linked to significantly lower quality of life, and accounts for approximately 40% of the negative psychological effects associated with obesity, finds new UCL research funded by Cancer Research UK. The study, which analysed data from 5,056 UK adults, found that those who felt discriminated against on the basis of their weight had a 70% increase in symptoms of depression, a 14% drop in quality of life and 12% lower life satisfaction relative to those who did not perceive weight discrimination.

To assess weight discrimination, participants were asked whether they experienced day-to-day discrimination that they attributed to their weight. Examples of discrimination include being treated disrespectfully, receiving poor service in shops, and being harassed. Psychological wellbeing was assessed with standard measures of quality of life, life satisfaction and symptoms of depression.

The data come from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a study of adults aged 50 or older. The researchers analysed the results to check whether the known association between obesity and poorer psychological wellbeing could in any part be explained by weight-related discrimination. They found that when perceived weight discrimination was accounted for, differences in wellbeing between obese and non-obese individuals were reduced substantially, suggesting that discrimination may be an important cause of low wellbeing for obese people.
Emphasis mine.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Sarah Jackson, UCL Epidemiology and Public Health, additionally notes that there are no legal protections from discrimination for fat people, equivalent to protections from discrimination "on the basis of age, sex, race, disability, religion of beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, or gender reassignment," which "might send the message to people that weight discrimination is socially acceptable."


In fact, "weight discrimination"—also known as fat hatred—is not merely considered "socially acceptable," but is often cited, even by health and ethics professionals, as an effective tool to promote weight loss. This is, of course, rank garbage—and senior author of the study, Professor Jane Wardle, director of the Cancer Research UK Health Behavior Centre at UCL, reports that they have done previous work "showing that weight discrimination does not encourage weight loss."
"Weight bias has been documented not only among the general public but also among health professionals; and many obese patients report being treated disrespectfully by doctors because of their weight. Everyone, including doctors, should stop blaming and shaming people for their weight."
Because it does not promote health at all. To the contrary, it is profoundly damaging to fat people's health.

[H/T to Shaker K.]

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