Head shot of Janet Latner

Janet Latner

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:

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Very great article full of a lot of insight into the negative emotional effects of being obese. Thank you for the article ladies. This is a prayer prompter.

  2. The stigma against obesity is against the life style and habits of the person, not just the fact that their obese. To have assumed that it was just the fact that person was obese is incredibly nearsighted. Just as a former crack addict would have a hard time putting the stigma behind him, so would a obese person have a hard time changing how people view their character.

  3. People who have lost weight do not look the same as people that have always been thin. Coming from a family of people who have trouble controlling our weight I can tell you first hand that the residual effect from being over weight do not disappear because one has lost weight. People know this, they take it into account.

  4. Hmm…this is interesting. I never thought that a women how has managed to lose weight would still have to deal with prejudice related to her weight in the past! You know this is crazy. It is my wish that people would be loving and accepting of all people regardless of weight, gender or anything else for that matter. We all have challenges in life…for some of us it’s weight, for others it’s career or relationships issues, and for others it’s drug addictions. No one has the right to judge…this article has reminded me to be gentle and kind to people, you never know what someone is going through.


  5. I’ve been a personal trainer for years and have worked with obese females as well as males. The syndrome is much harsher on the female mentality than that of men.

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