That obesity can cause serious health problems is not news, but a recent study published in Psychological Science claims that weight discrimination leads to an increase in mortality of up to two thirds.
The psychological effects of this discrimination, whether through teasing or rejection from others, increase the likelihood that overweight people will engage in activities that help maintain or worsen their situation. like not exercising or eating unhealthy.
Discrimination suffered by overweight or obese people causes psychological harm
Angelina Sutin, a researcher at Florida State University School of Medicine and co-director of this study, says that “while some may think that if someone feels hurt because of discrimination, they will be motivated to lose weight and seek a healthier lifestyle. not true. “
According to this research, the opposite is true, as Sutin adds: “Our study showed that this approach is not correct, because discrimination based on weight leads to serious psychological problems in the person who suffers from it.”
The study was conducted by Angelina Sutin and Antonio Terracciano, was published in Psychological Science and had a sample of over 18,000 subjects. Data were extracted from two longitudinal studies.
The first, called “The Health and Retirement Study”, started in 1992 at the University of Michigan in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging (United States) and had 13,962 participants. The other study, titled “Midlife in the United States”, began in 1995 on the MacArthur Foundation Research Network and involved 5,070 subjects.
After examining body mass index (BMI), subjective level of health, disease burden, depressive symptoms, smoking history, and level of physical activity, the researchers found that weight discrimination was associated with a greater than 60% increase in the risk of death.
Regarding the study, Sutin concluded that “Regardless of BMI, discrimination based on weight leads to an increased risk of mortality. This is not due to weight, but because of the consequences of discrimination.”
In previous research, Sutin and Terracciano have already shown that people who experience discrimination because of their excess weight tend to remain obese, develop chronic health problems, and have less life satisfaction. Data from the new study warn that discrimination is one of the main problems for obese or overweight people who are at a higher risk of dying.
Obesity and discrimination in today’s society
Overweight has become a globalized world a risk factor not only for health but also for personal dignity. the aesthetic culture preferred to associate personal success with a “body 10”. Since thinness is considered a supreme value, pathologies associated with body image are one of the main problems that psychologists encounter on a daily basisAs they affect many people, especially teenagers.
Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are growing alarmingly every day and, so far, prevention policies have had little success in stopping this phenomenon. The “collective madness” to reach the ideal weight, turns the obese into strange beings, and they constantly suffer the humiliation and discrimination of a society that has become extremely selfish and neglected.
More and more, the logic of advertising and the media imposes on us a model of unrealistic aesthetics and beauty. Individuals who do not fit within the parameters of this aesthetic society are sidelined and marginalized. Social Darwinism, characteristic of Western societies, this makes obese people seen as what they are afraid of and do not want to become.
This study demonstrates the negative consequences of rejection due to a weight problem, and we must not forget that the epidemic of obesity and overweight that affects developed societies, has a social and political origin. No matter how much obese people are blamed, it is necessary to stop seeing this problem as an individual phenomenon, in order to be able to improve their quality of life. If we think about the improvement of collective well-being and not so much about the accumulation of wealth, it could be achieved.