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Weight Discrimination and Bullying

>> Thursday, August 22, 2013

I really have to hand it to my fellow author Dr Rebecca Puhl for writing a fantastic chapter in our ‘Complications of Obesity’ textbook, about the effect of obesity stigmatization and bullying on both children and adults.  Here are some jaw-dropping and very sobering statistics and facts that she shares with us:

Discrimination in the workplace:  for the same work performed, obese women earn 6% less than healthy weight women, and obese men earn 3% less than thinner men.

Some studies have shown that managers are more willing to hire a less qualified thinner candidate, than a more qualified overweight candidate.

Health care discrimination: 69% of women report being stigmatized about their weight by their own doctor (eg feeling disrespected, dismissed, and/or upset about comments made by their MD)

One study reported that 68% of women with obesity delayed their medical care due to feeling embarrassed about being weighed, disrespected by health care providers,  and because gowns, examination tables, and other medical equipment were too small for them.

A vicious cycle:  79% of women in one study reported coping with weight stigma by eating more food.

People closest may hit the hardest: 60% of overweight people report friends, and 47% name their own spouses, as perpetrators of weight bias.

And the two that hit me the hardest:

Suicide risk in youth: over 50% of girls who experienced weight based bullying by peers or family contemplated suicide.

Suicide risk in youth: 13% of boys who were teased by family members about their weight reported attempting suicide (more than three times the risk compared to those who were not teased).

As I have blogged many times before, the stigmatization against people with obesity desperately needs to STOP.  As Dr Puhl concludes:

The stigmatization, bullying, and discrimination of obese children and adults are pervasive and lead to damaging consequences for individuals who are targeted… The adverse psychological, social, and health consequences resulting from weight stigmatization must also be prioritized in efforts to prevent and treat obesity.

@drsuepedersen © 2013



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