The Negative Effect of Weight-stigmatizing Messages

submitted by: admin on 01/27/2014

A study published in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology showed that when women who perceive themselves as overweight are exposed to weight-stigmatizing information, they are less able to control their eating afterward. 

One group of young women was asked to read a mock article in the NY Times titled "Lose Weight or Lose Your Job," and the other group asked to read an article titled "Quit Smoking or Lose Your Job." They were then asked to explain what they read to someone unfamiliar with either article. They were then ushered into a waiting room where there were pre-weighed dishes of chocolates and cheeze snacks. The dishes were weighed before and after the patients left the room after 10 minutes. 

What was discovered is that the women who read the weight-stigmatizing article ate significantly more of the snacks. When this was discussed with the patients, they acknowledged feeling significantly less able to control their eating. This study confirmed that articles and ads about the obesity epidemic imply it is merely a matter of self control that they are lacking; this can make overweight people fell even more helpless and out of control with their eating. 

Both stress and feeling out of control are huge contributors to overeating. 

The Negative Effect of Weight-stigmatizing Messages (Video)

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