Fat-shaming is 'declining in the US but not in the UK'

Ask anyone over a UK size 16 and they’ll tell you that fat-shaming is very much still a thing.

Now a new study backs that up – especially when it comes to the culture of body-shaming in the UK.

Brits are more likely to blame people who are overweight or obese for their weight than Americans are, says a new survey.

The survey polled more than 6,000 adults in the US and the UK, and found that 25% of Americans admitted to blaming obese people for being obese, down from 33% since the last poll three years ago.

In contrast, British attitudes have not changed in those last three years, with one in three Britons denying that obesity could be a result of genetics or a medical issue and instead seeing weight as a matter of choice.

The researchers say this should hammer home the importance of challenging our bias around weight; not just in everyday situations but in the medical field, too.

How can someone struggling with illness get help if their doctor can only see their weight as their ‘fault’?

We know that fat-shaming can cause harm to health and drive weight gain, meaning that not only is it damaging, it also simply doesn’t work in the goal of ‘tackling obesity’.

It’s time for us to challenge the way we see weight.

‘Weight bias causes both physical and psychological harm to people with obesity. It is an important barrier to progress in reducing its health impact,’ said Ted Kyle from ConscienHealth, an advocacy organisation in the US.

‘While attitudes appear to be improving in the USA, our study finds that blaming people for their weight is still commonplace in both countries.’

Joe Nadglowski from the Obesity Action Coalition, who co-authored the research, said: ‘If someone has excess weight, there may be numerous factors at work, meaning it’s not due to poor discipline or willpower.

‘We’d like to see public policy experts, health professionals, and the media look at these findings, step back and work on ways to challenge and change public perception of obesity.

‘Maybe that’s through public education campaigns or strong policies to prevent weight-based discrimination.’

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