New Research: Too Much Internal Weight Bias

A new study published today in Obesity tells us that one in five adults are carrying a heavy burden – internal weight bias. Rebecca Puhl will be presenting these results at ObesityWeek on Wednesday.

In their research, Puhl and colleagues studied internalized weight bias in a total of 3,504 U.S. adults. While 20% of the total population has high levels of internal weight bias, that number rises to more than half (52%) of people living with obesity.

This is the first-ever study to document how common internalized weight bias is.

A Destructive Force Turned Inward

Prior research shows that the physical harm of obesity becomes especially sharp when people internalize the stigma they experience. That’s because risk factors for heart and metabolic diseases go up with high levels of internal weight bias. Recently, Puhl and Scott Kahan explained why this is unsurprising:

The meaning we assign to external events, not the objective events themselves, determines our emotional reactions and health outcomes.

So it’s not the insults that harm our health so much. It’s our physical response when we accept those insults and turn them inward.

National Obesity Care Week: Weight Bias Focus Day

Kicking off a focus on weight bias today for National Obesity Care Week, OAC CEO Joe Nadglowski tells us:

This study adds to the reasons that OAC is so committed to reducing the harm of weight bias. By itself, internalized weight bias causes great suffering. And on top of that, weight bias leads healthcare providers and their patients to avoid helpful conversations about  obesity’s impact on health. If we can’t talk about it, we can’t make it better.

Blame and shame take us in the wrong direction. It’s time to set all of that aside and focus on the real enemy – obesity itself.

Click here for the study and here for more reporting from the Connecticut Post. For more on National Obesity Care Week, click here. Mark your calendar for OAC’s weight bias tweet chat tonight at 9 pm.

Pointing, photograph © Prisoner 5413 / flickr

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October 30, 2017

2 Responses to “New Research: Too Much Internal Weight Bias”

  1. November 07, 2017 at 2:31 pm, reallyrosy said:

    I just want to know what can be done about it

    • November 08, 2017 at 3:19 am, Ted said:

      Better training for professionals. Better support for people coping with it.