Weight discrimination may cut short your life

New York: Victims of weight discrimination have a greater risk of dying early not because they may be overweight, but because of the apparent effects of the discrimination, says a new study.

The results confirm previous studies that had indicated that teasing a person to lose weight has the opposite effect over the long-term.

“Independent of what their BMI (body mass index) actually is, weight discrimination is associated with increased risk of mortality,” said one of the researchers of the new study Angelina Sutin assistant professor of behavioural sciences and social medicine at Florida State University College of Medicine in the US.

The researchers examined data involving more than 18,000 people from separate studies, comparing those who reported experiencing weight discrimination with those who did not.

They found that individuals reporting weight discrimination had a 60 percent greater chance of dying over the follow-up period.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time that this has been shown — that weight discrimination is associated with an increased risk of mortality,” Antonio Terracciano, associate professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Geriatrics, noted.

“Some people think, ‘Oh, well, you are just hurting somebody’s feelings when you say something bad about their weight, but it will motivate them to lose weight, which will save their life’,” Sutin said.

Contrary to such beliefs, in addition to the psychological effects, weightism increases the risk of weight gain and premature mortality, Sutin pointed out.

“Our research has shown that very clearly this type of approach does not work and there are really serious consequences to it,” Sutin said.

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.