Posted by: 4pack | May 20, 2009

“Ideal Shape”: Published Medical Studies Demonstrate “Fat Phobia” Even Among Dietitians, Personal Trainers And Doctors Specializing In Treating Obesity

Even dietitians, personal trainers and doctors who specialize in treating obesity exhibit fat phobia.

obesity bias

Yale University scientists who searched through medical studies on weight bias published between January 2000 and May 2008 found:

 More than half of 620 doctors surveyed view obese patients as “awkward,” “unattractive,” “ugly” and “non-compliant.” A third went further, painting the obese as weak-willed, sloppy and lazy. Even dietitians, personal trainers and doctors who specialize in treating obesity exhibit fat phobia.

College students asked to rank pictures of hypothetical sexual partners that included an obese partner or partners with various disabilities – including missing an arm or described as having history of sexually transmitted diseases – ranked the obese person as the least desirable sexual partner compared to the others.

 In one study of nearly 3,000 people, obese respondents were 37 times more likely than normal-weight to report employment discrimination – not being hired for a job, not getting promoted and wrongful termination. Obese employees are considered less conscientious, “less agreeable” and less emotionally stable than “normal weight” workers.

 “People think sometimes that, because obesity rates continue to increase, we really shouldn’t have this problem with bias and prejudice, that attitudes should be getting better and more tolerant,” says Rebecca Puhl, co-author of the study published in the most recent issue of the journal Obesity and director of research at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale.

 “But what we see is that the weight bias is getting worse.”

 In the past year alone in studies, obese people have been held partially responsible for rising fuel prices, global warming and causing weight gain in their friends, Puhl and co-author Chelsea Heuer write.

 In television and in film, people in fat suits and obese characters are played for fat gags, and reality shows such as the Biggest Loser perpetuate the stigma. For nearly two-thirds of the American population alone, the only place on television where they see bodies similar to their own “is on shows where the entire cast is trying desperately to become thin,” Puhl and Heuer write.

 Weight bias is a “very pervasive problem that continues to really paralyze people in many aspects of their daily life,” Puhl said in an interview.


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