Washington: A new study has found that the stigma directed at formerly obese people, who lost weight and became lean, may be overblown.
The North Carolina State University study finds that most people, who have lost a lot of weight, don’t perceive themselves as being “judged” because they used to be overweight or obese, which contradicts earlier research that people were stigmatized even after reaching a healthy weight.
Previous research found that people judge thin individuals more harshly if they know that those individuals used to be overweight – for example, judging them to be less attractive or lazier.
Researcher Lynsey Romo conducted in-depth interviews with 17 men and 13 women. All of the study participants self-identified as having a normal weight, but had previously been overweight or obese. The average weight loss for study participants was 76.4 pounds.
Romo said that they found that an overwhelming number of participants had not perceived any residual stigma related to their weight loss; most felt the response to their weight loss was very positive.
Romo added that most study participants were extremely open about their weight loss, for different reasons. Some wanted to try to inspire others who were trying to lose weight, some disclosed their experience in order to build relationships by sharing personal information, and others felt that talking about their weight loss publicly made them feel more accountable and helped them keep the weight off.
However, a few study participants were reluctant to talk about their weight loss as they didn’t want to be seen as boastful or “holier than thou.”
Romo concluded that based on this work, the residual stigma discussed in earlier research may be overstated, adding that everyone needs to make his or her own decisions, but this research suggests that most people should feel comfortable talking about their weight loss experiences.
The study is published in the journal Health Communication. (ANI)