Here’s How Fat-Shaming Can Actually Be Bad For Your Health

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
We all know how harmful body-shaming can be for a person's self-esteem, but can it actually be a health risk? According to a new study, fat-shaming has also be linked to greater risk of other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. For the study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine examined 159 adults with obesity and looked at the relationship between what the participants internalized about their bodies and their metabolic syndrome. The participants completed questionnaires measuring depression and weight bias internalization, and underwent medical exams that tested for risk factors for heart problems. When patients were divided between those with "high" and "low" weight bias internalization (which occurs when people internalize negative beliefs about themselves due to their weight), the researchers found something interesting. Those with high weight bias were three times as likely to have metabolic syndrome, and six times as likely to have high triglycerides — a risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. "Health care providers, the media, and the general public should be aware that blaming and shaming patients with obesity is not an effective tool for promoting weight loss, and it may in fact contribute to poor health if patients internalize these prejudicial messages," the study's co-author, Tom Wadden, PhD, told Science Daily. The researchers said that how someone feels about their body — and how they feel about themselves because of their body — can factor into their mental and physical health. The bottom line? Fat-shaming can hurt someone's self-esteem and their overall physical health. While we've come a long way in fighting against body-shaming, this study is a reminder of just how important it is to fight negativity.

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