Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Obesity Stigma Not Helpful - No, Really?

This just out!!  Obesity stigma harms more than helps!! 

[No, really????]  

Amazing they have to have an actual research journal article debating this.  Isn't it obvious?  Well, evidently not, sigh

I suppose I should be grateful that someone is taking time to disprove the kinds of lame claims that more stigma is needed, not less. 

On the flip side, though, is that while they are concerned about the negative effects of obesity stigma on fat people, the big concern is that this stigma gets in the way of obesity intervention efforts

I know these authors have good intentions, but I don't think they quite get it, do you?  Pretty typical of the Rudd Center, I gather.

But at least they are saying something against obesity stigma and countering the usual nonsense out there. It just amazes me that some idiots can actually believe that obesity stigma is really an effective tool for health improvement.

Here's the abstract of the study.  [Obviously, emphasis mine.]

Obesity stigma: important considerations for public health.

Am J Public Health. 2010 Jun;100(6):1019-28. Epub 2010 Jan 14.
Puhl RM, Heuer CA.
Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, 309 Edwards St, New Haven, CT 06520-8369, USA.


Stigma and discrimination toward obese persons are pervasive and pose numerous consequences for their psychological and physical health. Despite decades of science documenting weight stigma, its public health implications are widely ignored.

Instead, obese persons are blamed for their weight, with common perceptions that weight stigmatization is justifiable and may motivate individuals to adopt healthier behaviors. We examine evidence to address these assumptions and discuss their public health implications.

On the basis of current findings, we propose that weight stigma is not a beneficial public health tool for reducing obesity.

Rather, stigmatization of obese individuals threatens health, generates health disparities, and interferes with effective obesity intervention efforts.

These findings highlight weight stigma as both a social justice issue and a priority for public health.

PubMedID: 20075322


Chris Gregory said...

Back when I was studying to be a mathematician, there were a whole bunch of trivial and boring proofs attributed to this one guy - Nicolas Bourbaki. He never existed. He was a character invented, like Alan Smithee, to fill a necessary but unwanted spot.

Sometimes science reveals something exiting and new. But mostly it's testing and retesting the same stuff, over and over. Having a paper that shows evidence of something obvious is still of some value. And sometimes questioning or testing the obvious has unexpected results. But usually not (which can still have value), as is probably the case here.

Miriam Heddy said...

Not at all surprising to see that the Rudd center has this kind of cognitive dissonance at a policy level. I'd love to hear them actually try to explain how they can argue for the elimination of something without stigmatizing it.

On another, related note, the use of "lame" as a descriptive is stigmatizing. And here's a good post explaining why that is:


Sleepydumpling said...

It's a bit of a "no shit Sherlock" conclusion to draw isn't it?

I mean, if stigmatisation, shame and bullying worked, wouldn't we all be thin today?

Anonymous said...

Miriam Heddy wrote:

I'd love to hear them actually try to explain how they can argue for the elimination of something without stigmatizing it.

Ummmm.... polio??

Polysemous said...

No cookie for you anonymous. The stigma attached to polio is "lame".

Beth said...

I hate how I can't get quality answers from healthcare providers because of obesity stigma. For instance, I was asking the nurse in my OB's office about pregnancy nutrition. I'm newly pregnant (4 weeks tomorrow :) and am worried about eating the right proportions of things.

She started telling me to eat whole wheat bread "without the honey on top" (no $H!T) and to eat sweet potatoes instead of yams. Really? Thanks.

Cat said...

I'm in grad school and am planning on doing my thesis on this topic. I'm in public policy, and I will specifically be looking at how current public health policy approaches to obesity cause health problems, and I will then be looking at policy alternatives to the usual encourage-behavior-modification-even-though -everyone-knows-diets-don't-work approach. Does anyone have any tips for me as I start this process? If so come comment on my blog please or send me a message!

Fat Hijabi said...

I was wondering if you saw this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/health/06obese.html
It would seem to me that the main thing to do would be to decrease C sections. As you have suggested to look at the cases where "obese" women have normal pregnancies. I hate the abject way in which they describe fat women. But I must admit it produces anxiety to me. My husband and I are moving towards IVF after he builds up sperm ( he had a brain tumor and had to have replacement hormone therapy). God willing we will begin our assisted reproduction at the the end of the summer. I have been practicing HAES and feel awesome but articles like this disturb me.

Anonymous said...

Really! Shaming something does not make it go away. It just makes everyone feel worse. What does Polio have to do with anything? People GET polio.