Although weight discrimination has been thought to motivate overweight and obese individuals to lose weight, the results of a recent study show that individuals who felt judged because of their weight were more likely to become or remain obese.
The study, published online on July 24, 2013, in PLOS One
, enrolled 6157 participants 50 years and older from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study to test the effects of weight discrimination on body mass index. At baseline in 2006, participants were measured and surveyed on their experience with weight discrimination. They were measured again at the end of the study in 2010.
At the start of the study, 32% of participants were obese, and 8% reported experiencing weight discrimination. The results indicated that those who felt they had been discriminated against were approximately 2.5 times more likely to become obese 4 years later than those who did not feel discriminated against. Among participants who were obese at baseline, those who had experienced weight discrimination were 3.2 times more likely to remain obese by the end of the study than those who had not experienced discrimination.
The researchers note that risk of obesity was uniquely linked to weight discrimination and was unrelated to any other forms of bias.