Weight-shaming, or explicit bias towards people with obesity, has significantly reduced in the United States over the past 3 years, suggesting wider acceptance of obesity as a medical problem, according to a new survey conducted in the United States and UK.
However, the US finding is in stark contrast to the UK, where the survey suggests the general public continues to attribute blame to people with obesity.
Exploring attitudes towards weight was the topic addressed by the survey conducted in both countries over the last 3 years.
"This finding is important because it highlights that, in the United States at least, obesity is increasingly considered a medical condition and not a personal failure," said Ted Kyle, MBA, founder of ConscienHealth, an advocacy organization in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who led the work.
He presented the findings as a poster at this year's virtual European and International Congress on Obesity(ECOICO 2020).
The survey shows nearly one in three UK adultsblame people with obesity for their condition and do not believe obesity is a medical problem.
In contrast, over the past 3 years in the United States there has been a 12% increase in respondents who believe obesity is a medical problem. The difference between the two countries was statistically significant.
"There are multiple reasons for this change including that in the US, the fastest growing medical specialty is obesity medicine; the science of obesity has progressed; and culturally, the noise level about so-called 'fat-shaming' as being morally and socially wrong has increased," said Kyle.
"But by no means is the problem solved," he added. "There's still a lot of bias and remember this refers to explicit bias that expressed, which is very different to implicit bias that is internalized and influences a decision before you are aware of it."
Stuart Flint, PhD, associate professor of the psychology of obesity at the University of Leeds, UK, had this to say: "The decline in weight stigma in the US is much needed and encouraging."
But, he told Medscape Medical News, it is important to learn why these changes in attitudes have occurred in the United States to try to disseminate these positive opinions more widely.
"Considering that weight stigma is so perceptive, and in some instances encouraged, this study shows that greater efforts are needed to reduce weight stigma that is high in the UK," he asserted.
Previous research by Kyle (Obes Facts. 2018;11:1-364. Abstract S1.3) suggests thatexplicit weight bias is more common in the UK than in eight other countries including the United States, and that those harsh British attitudes to obesity are hampering efforts to tackle the obesity epidemic. "Reducing weight stigma has been identified as a key target by, for instance, the UK Obesity Policy Engagement Network and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on obesity," added Flint.
"Greater efforts are warranted and required at all levels including policy, health care, and within the community."
The researchers analyzed the responses from a random sample of 6082 adults from the US and UK,half of whom completed ananonymous online Google survey in November 2017 and the other half in May 2020.
The survey asked participants for their opinion ononeof three different statements using a five-point Likert scale (strongly agree to strongly disagree): 1) that obesity is the fault of the person with obesity; 2) that it is not their fault; or 3) that obesity is a major problem because people with obesity are blamed for the disease instead of receiving needed medical help. The results were adjusted for gender, age, country, and year.
In the United States, results showed a considerable drop in the proportion of respondents who agree that obesity is the fault of people with obesity, from 31% (115/372) in 2017 to 25% (93/377) in 2020 (P = .10). By comparison, UK respondents showed a smaller drop from 34% to 30% for the same question (P = .28).
Turning the question around so asking if the respondent thought obesity was not the fault of the person with obesity showed a rise in the proportion of US respondents agreeing with this statement from 11% to 16% (P = .17) between the two time points. But in the UK, there was an insignificant change from 16% to 15% (P = .31).
A significant change was also seen when American respondents were asked whether they agreed with a medical explanation for obesity. US respondents were much more likely to agree with this than those from the UK.
The percentage of US respondents in agreement rose from 30% to 42% between 2017 and 2020 (P = .002), but among UK respondents, that percentage remained unchanged at 31% (P = .8).
In 2018, the Royal College of Physicians in the UK called for obesity to be urgently recognized as a disease by government and the broader health sector, warning that until this happens its prevalence is unlikely to be reduced.
"There was some considerable backlash to this," noted Kyle.
"In the UK, for some people, there just seems to be a stronger impulse to blame people with obesity. It takes time for sentiment to shift on something that's so deeply held," he added.
"In the US where obesity is more common than in the UK it might make it harder to vilify obesity if over 40% of the population have it."
Kyle explained that by weight-shaming and implying people make bad choices or are somehow defective, "People turn in on themselves and they start believing the bad things people say about them. This is internalized stigma and this is known to predict worse medical outcomes."
Kyle also highlighted that obesity is genetic in origin but that the obesogenic environment plays a large part in people becoming obese.
"We can make a choice about how we are going to cope with a bad set of genes or a hostile environment, but we can't make a choice about susceptibility to obesity in our genes."
ECOICO 2020. Presented September 1, 2020. Abstract 1150/LBP-126.
Kyle is a board member for the Obesity Action Coalition. Flint has reported no relevant financial relationships.
For more diabetes and endocrinology news, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Read more from the original source:
'Fat-Shaming' Drops in US but UK Public Still Apportion Blame - Medscape
- The kids aren't all right: COVID-19-fueled stress eating, inequities, lack of fitness expected to boost obesity, experts say - USA TODAY - October 18th, 2020
- Hispanics live longer than most Americans, but will the US obesity epidemic change things? - The Conversation US - October 18th, 2020
- Obesity in children on the rise due to remote learning, study shows - WWLTV.com - October 18th, 2020
- How the pandemic is boosting the risk of childhood obesity WHYY - WHYY - October 18th, 2020
- Risk of severe Covid-19 high for obese people, regardless of other factors - Health24 - October 18th, 2020
- The COVID-19 pandemic emphasizes the need to manage patient obesity - Medical Economics - October 18th, 2020
- Learn About the Advice From FIGO on Obesity | Figo - International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics - October 18th, 2020
- Bariatric Surgery Associated with 3-Year Increase in Life Expectancy for Obese Patients - Endocrinology Network - October 18th, 2020
- funded study links adolescent brain differences to increased waist circumference - National Institutes of Health - October 18th, 2020
- National Pet Obesity Awareness Day puts spotlight on keeping furry friends at a healthy weight - KING5.com - October 18th, 2020
- Studies Begin to Untangle Obesitys Role in Covid-19 - The New York Times - September 29th, 2020
- Covid-19 has killed more people than obesity in the UK this year - Full Fact - September 29th, 2020
- Relation found between AMI and obesity < Hospital < - KBR - Korea Biomedical Review - September 29th, 2020
- Long-term impact of obesity on patient-reported outcomes and patient satisfaction after lumbar spine surgery: an observational study. - Physician's... - September 29th, 2020
- Recovered Covid patients just cant stop eating - The New Indian Express - September 29th, 2020
- Wellness Expert James Hill Says Healthy Is More Than Weight Loss - Healthline - September 29th, 2020
- Weight Gain Linked to Later Life Incident VTE - MD Magazine - September 29th, 2020
- 18 Percent Of Americans Don't Have Enough To Eat, Which Makes Them...Obese? - Science 2.0 - September 29th, 2020
- Food insecurity in the US increasingly linked to obesity - Medical News Today - September 28th, 2020
- U.S. Adult Obesity Rate Hits Highest Rate Ever Recorded - Club Industry - September 28th, 2020
- Mission: Readiness ties obesity to national security - News - Times Record - September 28th, 2020
- The Intersection Of Obesity, COVID-19, Social Justice And Mental Health - Club Industry - September 28th, 2020
- Experience of Polish Patients with Obesity in Contacts with Medical Pr | PPA - Dove Medical Press - September 28th, 2020
- Cleveland Clinic Study Identifies Weight-Loss Threshold for Cardiovascular and Survival Benefits in Patients with Obesity and Diabetes - Health... - September 28th, 2020
- Coronavirus pandemic could impact cancer rates and care in the future - WKTV - September 28th, 2020
- An obese heart is a silent risk - The Hippocratic Post - September 28th, 2020
- Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Heart Failure: Is There a Connection? - Michigan Medicine - September 28th, 2020
- Should India adopt NOVA classification of food? - The Sunday Guardian - September 28th, 2020
- Obesity and the Bitter Pill of Truth - Medscape - September 23rd, 2020
- Obesity and COVID-19: A renewed call to address a growing crisis - World Bank Group - September 23rd, 2020
- Negative pressure wound therapy does not cut infection risk in obese women after cesarean delivery - National Institutes of Health - September 23rd, 2020
- Obesity linked to hospitalisation and ICUs for Covid-19 patients - The Irish Times - September 23rd, 2020
- New Research Shows Potential Utility of Growth Standards to Monitor Healthy Weight in Puppies and May Help Identify Puppies at Risk for Obesity -... - September 23rd, 2020
- SCOTUS, Sallys economic effects and obesity - AL.com - September 23rd, 2020
- Obesity can cause and be consequence of poor sleep - Westside Eagle Observer - September 23rd, 2020
- Health Education Week 2020: Opportunities and Advancements in Obesity Medicine - Medical Economics - September 23rd, 2020
- COVID-19 Recovery Analysis: Assisted Reproductive Technology Market | Increase in Rate of Infertility and Obesity-Related Cases to Boost the Market... - September 23rd, 2020
- Stephanie Yeboah: 'Obesity is a disgusting word... it's just used to scare people' - Telegraph.co.uk - September 23rd, 2020
- Diabetes, Obesity and other five risk factors that can lead to heart failure - India TV News - September 23rd, 2020
- Research finds out a new phenomenon of obesity with the multiple burden of malnutrition in India - Eastern Eye - September 23rd, 2020
- WHO launches guide to boost children's health and well-being in Russian-speaking countries - Russian Federation - ReliefWeb - September 23rd, 2020
- For teens with severe obesity, bariatric surgery works, but is rarely used. Experts say that needs to change - The Detroit News - September 20th, 2020
- Obesity associated with a higher risk for dementia, new study finds - National Institute on Aging - September 20th, 2020
- Your Health First: Top underlying health conditions in North Dakota? Obesity and Type 2 diabetes - KX NEWS - September 20th, 2020
- US adult obesity at highest level ever recorded; Arkansas and Oklahoma rank in top five - 5newsonline.com - September 20th, 2020
- Coronavirus science | Week in review: 'Long Covid', obesity, and will the virus become seasonal? - Health24 - September 20th, 2020
- Mediterranean diet helps offset the health impacts of obesity - Earth.com - September 20th, 2020
- Obese people 70% more at risk of severe COVID-19: Assocham - The Indian Express - September 20th, 2020
- Could interaction between Covid-19 and pre-existing bacteria explain severity in the obese? - Health24 - September 20th, 2020
- Despicable to blame Government for Covid-19 death rate given obesity, says Tory peer - Evening Standard - September 20th, 2020
- If a heavyweight is morbidly obese why is he also fit to box? - Boxing News Online - September 20th, 2020
- Cancer Is on the Rise Among Young People - Discover Magazine - September 20th, 2020
- Letters to the Editor: Sept. 20 - Canon City Daily Record - September 20th, 2020
- Good nutrition can contribute to keeping COVID-19 and other diseases away - Kiowa County Press - September 20th, 2020
- Why COVID-19 is more deadly in people with obesityeven if they're young - Science Magazine - September 8th, 2020
- Higher obesity rates appear to contribute to higher bankruptcy rates in the United States - PsyPost - September 8th, 2020
- Worldwide Non-Invasive Fat Reduction Industry to 2025 - Increasing Prevalence of Obesity Presents Opportunities - ResearchAndMarkets.com - Business... - September 8th, 2020
- New evidence testosterone therapy is effective obesity treatment in men - New Atlas - September 8th, 2020
- Obesity is tied to greater risk of complications from COVID-19 - WWLTV.com - September 8th, 2020
- Pregnancy, Obesity and Nutrition Initiative (PONI): FIGO releases new Supplement - International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics - September 7th, 2020
- High Pleural Pressure Prevents Alveolar Overdistension and Hemodynamic Collapse in ARDS with Class III Obesity. - Physician's Weekly - September 7th, 2020
- Global Intragastric Balloon Market (2019 to 2028) - Rise in Government Initiatives Regarding Obesity Presents Opportunities - ResearchAndMarkets.com -... - September 7th, 2020
- Drugs That Fight Diabetes and Obesity May Treat Covid-19 - Bloomberg - September 6th, 2020
- COVID-19 Patients With Obesity Have Higher Viral Load, for Longer - Medscape - September 6th, 2020
- Even half a glass of alcohol increases risk of obesity, study shows - Study Finds - September 6th, 2020
- America's Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine - POZ - September 6th, 2020
- Calls for tougher regulation to fight obesity - Newsroom - September 6th, 2020
- Consumption of alcohol even in small amounts can result in obesity and metabolic syndrome, suggests study - Firstpost - September 6th, 2020
- World's richest countries grappling with children's reading and math skills, mental well-being and obesity - UNICEF - September 6th, 2020
- Definition of Chronic disease - MedicineNet - August 31st, 2020
- America's Move to Raise A Healthier Generation of Kids ... - August 31st, 2020
- Controlled obesity status: a rarely used concept, but with particular importance in the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond - DocWire News - August 31st, 2020
- Groningen University Hospital to investigate role of obesity in patients with COVID-19 - Innovation Origins - August 31st, 2020
- Obesity and COVID-19: How weight tips the scales to severe COVID-19 illness - The Stanford Daily - August 31st, 2020
- Study finds obese people at higher risk of COVID-19 complications - Times of India - August 31st, 2020
- Childhood obesity could increase the risk of multiple sclerosis in later life - The Conversation UK - August 31st, 2020
- Peter Rhodes on an Indian romance, the risks of obesity and standing up for nice things - expressandstar.com - August 31st, 2020
- Joint Pain Injections Market: Investments by key players is driving the global market - BioSpace - August 31st, 2020
- Why your doctor will not talk to you about obesity - The Standard - August 31st, 2020
- EDITORIAL: We haven't tackled obesity - and now it's proving our downfall - Bahamas Tribune - August 31st, 2020