Going Down

Fat Shaming Is Down, But Weight Bias Persists

Blame TrendA new study presented today at ObesityWeek in Los Angeles provides a bit of good news and a bit of bad news about bias against people living with the disease of obesity. Data from research with more than 70,000 U.S. adults beginning in 2013 suggests that “the public increasingly understands that obesity is more complicated than simplistic notions of personal responsibility or blame.”

Though these data show that fat shaming is down, other attitudes Personal Problem Trendrelated to overall weight bias are essentially unchanged. Explicit weight bias, measured by the Fat Phobia Scale, remained moderately high and was unchanged between October 2014 and April 2015. And the authors found indications that social acceptance of people with obesity may be declining.

The research — conducted by obesity experts from the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC),  Montclair State University, and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity — provides a unique, current view of how some public attitudes about obesity are changing, while others are not.

OAC President and CEO Joe Nadglowski participated in the research and said:

While we were pleased to see that the “blame game” for obesity is declining, we now know that there is still much work to be done in combating weight bias.

Lead author and OAC Chairman Ted Kyle commented, saying:

Weight bias remains a significant source of harm to people living with obesity and a significant impediment to progress in reducing obesity’s adverse effects.

Rebecca Puhl, senior author of the study and Deputy Director of the Rudd Center said, “This study highlights the need for societal-level efforts to broaden acceptance of people of diverse body sizes.”

Click here to access the full study report.

Going Down, photograph © Santi / flickr

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November 6, 2015