"Fat shaming," or targeting people over their weight, isn't going to make them thinner, a study finds. In fact, it may have the opposite effect, driving them to gain weight, LiveScience reports. Researchers asked 3,000 people if they'd suffered weight discrimination; some 5% had. The study team then followed the survey subjects over a four-year period and found that the victims of fat shaming gained about two pounds; those who hadn't experienced such treatment lost a pound and a half.
"Our study clearly shows that weight discrimination is part of the obesity problem and not the solution," says a researcher. "Everyone, including doctors, should stop blaming and shaming people for their weight and offer support, and where appropriate, treatment." One explanation, as the Toronto Sun reports: "People who experience discrimination report comfort eating," the study's lead author says. "Weight discrimination has also been shown to make people feel less confident about taking part in physical activity, so they tend to avoid it." Though the study can't officially prove fat shaming causes weight gain, it appears to support results from previous studies, LiveScience notes.