Updated: Tuesday, 31st March 2020 @ 1:06pm

Obese women will 'never escape social stigma' even after weight loss, claims University of Manchester study

Obese women will 'never escape social stigma' even after weight loss, claims University of Manchester study

By Mancunian Matters Staff

Overweight women may never escape the stigma of obesity even after they have lost weight, according to a study involving the University of Manchester.

The research which also included the University of Hawaii and Monash University in Melbourne Australia, examined whether anti-fat prejudice against women continued even after they had lost significant weight and were now thin.

Co-author, Dr Kerry O'Brien, from the University of Manchester's School of Psychological Sciences, said that the public’s perceptions of what weight women should be was unfair.

Dr O’Brien said: "The message we often hear from society is that weight is highly controllable, but the best science in the obesity field at the moment suggests that one's physiology and genetics, as well as the food environment, are the really big players in one's weight status and weight loss.

"Weight status actually appears rather uncontrollable, regardless of one's will-power, knowledge and dedication.

The team found that participants in the study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, expressed greater bias against obese people after reading about women who had lost weight than after reading about women who had remained weight stable.

Dr O’Brien added: “Many people who are perceived as "fat" are struggling in vain to lose weight in order to escape this painful social stigma.

“We need to rethink our approaches to, and views of, weight and obesity."

The findings, say the authors, demonstrate that residual obesity stigma persists against individuals who have ever been obese, even when they have lost substantial amounts of weight.

Obesity stigma is so powerful and enduring that it appears to even outlast the obesity itself.

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