Obese people risk getting diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, inflammation and other disorders, if they are discriminated in society, finds a study conducted by an Indian-origin researcher. The study suggested that 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.
The researchers focused on respondents who regularly reported experiencing discrimination because of their weight and asked whether they were treated discourteously, called names, or made to feel inferior.
“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,” said Maya Vadiveloo, Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island, in the US. According to the researchers, the findings, published in the August issue of Annals of Behavioral Medicine, expose flaws in society’s approach to weight control.
“Our paper highlights the importance of including sensitivity and understanding when working with individuals with obesity, and when developing public health campaigns,” Vadiveloo said. People who experience weight discrimination often shun social interaction and skip doctor visits, the study reveals.
“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,” the researcher said.