Washington D.C. [US], Oct. 23 : The scientists have in a recent study found that how society treats an overweight person lays impact on his health.
Lead researcher Maya Vadiveloo analyzed weight discrimination data from the long-term national study, Midlife Development in the United States.
The researchers focused on respondents, who reported regularly experiencing discrimination because of their weight.
The study asked whether they were treated discourteously, called names or made to feel inferior. Those who experienced weight discrimination over a 10-year period had twice the risk of high allostatic load, the cumulative dysfunction of bodily systems from chronic stress, they found.
That stress can lead to heart disease, diabetes, inflammation and other disorders, thereby increasing risk of death.
"It is a pretty big effect. Even if we accounted for health effects attributed to being overweight, these people still experience double the risk of allostatic load because of weight discrimination," Vadiveloo said.
The findings expose flaws in society's approach to weight control. "The main message is to be aware that the way we treat people may have more negative effects than we realize," she says.
"Our paper highlights the importance of including sensitivity and understanding when working with individuals with obesity and when developing public health campaigns," she said.
The people, who experience weight discrimination often shun social interaction and skip doctor visits, she notes.
"There is so much shaming around food and weight. We need to work together as a nation on improving public health and clinical support for individuals with obesity and targeting environmental risk factors," she said.
The study was published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine journal..