Self-Stigmatization Elevates Cardiometabolic Risk in Obese Patients

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Shaming those who are obese into weight loss will negatively impact their motivation and increase risk for cardiovascular disease.
Shaming those who are obese into weight loss will negatively impact their motivation and increase risk for cardiovascular disease.

HealthDay News—Attempts to shame an overweight or obese person into losing weight won't motivate them to do so, and may even raise their risk for cardiovascular disease and other health problems, according to research published online in Obesity.

The study included 159 obese adults. The researchers asked them how much they devalued and blamed themselves when they were stigmatized for their weight. The researchers also looked to see how often metabolic syndrome had been diagnosed among these adults.

In all, 51 of the men and women met the criteria for metabolic syndrome. Those with higher levels of devaluation and self-blame were about 46% more likely to have metabolic syndrome. When the researchers looked at those reporting the highest levels of internalizing devaluation and self-blame compared with the lowest group, the highest group had 3 times the risk of metabolic syndrome as those in the lowest. The study team also found that those with the highest levels of feeling devalued were 6 times as likely to have high triglycerides.

The findings lend support to previous research, Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, DC, and coauthor of a commentary accompanying the study, told HealthDay. The new research, he said, suggests that "experiencing weight stigma is bad, but worse appears to be internalizing weight stigma."

One author disclosed financial ties to weight loss and pharmaceutical companies, including Eisai, which provided funding for the study.

References

  1. Pearl RL, Wadden TA, Hopkins CM, et al. Association between weight bias internalization and metabolic syndrome among treatment-seeking individuals with obesity [published online January 26, 2017]. Obesity. doi: 10.1002/oby.21716
  2. Kahan S, Puhl RM. The damaging effects of weight bias internalization [published online January 26, 2017]. Obesity. doi: 10.1002/oby.21772
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