According to new University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa research garnering national media coverage, obese people may not be able to escape from the painful stigma of obesity even after weight loss.
The recent study by Janet Latner, lead researcher and associate professor of psychology at UH Mānoa, and her colleague, Kerry O’Brien, senior lecturer at the University of Manchester in Great Britain and Monash University in Australia, specifically examined whether anti-fat prejudice persists against women who are thin, but who used to be obese.
The study was published in the journal Obesity.
“Prejudice against obese people is widespread and hurtful,” Latner said. “Many obese people are trying to lose weight to escape painful discrimination. Surprisingly, however, currently thin women were viewed differently depending on their weight history. Those who had been obese in the past were perceived as less attractive than those who had always been thin, despite having identical height and weight.”
Latner says that this “residual stigma” might explain the lower-than-expected earnings and occupational attainment by women who were previously, but who are no longer, overweight.
Local and national media coverage of the findings include:
- New York Daily News, May 31, 2012: “Prejudice against heavy women persists even after weight loss, study finds”
- CBS News, May 30, 2012: “Negative obesity stigma lingers even after women shed pounds”
- Fox News, May 30, 2012: “Overweight women experience obesity stigma even after weight loss, study finds”
- Hawaii News Now, May 30, 2012: “Once-obese women still face stigma”