Weight discrimination stops obese from losing weight, increases mortality risk

Weight discrimination stops obese from losing weight, increases mortality riskWeight discrimination of obese people leads to chronic health problems and increases mortality risk, according to the latest findings. Researchers examined data involving 18,000 people from various longitudinal studies and compared those who experienced weight discriminated to those who did not. Their findings suggest that those who experience weight discrimination had a 60 percent increased risk of mortality – other factors of mortality were also included in their findings.

Angelina R. Sutin, Ph.D., lead researcher, said, “What we found is that this isn’t a case of people with a higher body-mass index (BMI) being at an increased risk of mortality – and they happen to also report being subjected to weight discrimination. Independent of what their BMI actually is, weight discrimination is associated with increased risk of mortality.”


Of all the study groups, researchers found results to be the same. Researchers factored in BMI, subjective health, disease burden, depressive symptoms, smoking history, and physical activity and yet weight discrimination as a factor remained.

Co-researcher, Antonio Terracciano, Ph.D., said, “To our knowledge, this is the first time that this has been shown – that weight discrimination is associated with an increased risk of mortality.”

Sutin added, “The experimental work shows the immediate effects of weightism and our work shows the consequence over the lifespan.”

Previous research has found that teasing an individual to lose weight will actually have the opposite effect. Additionally, being discriminated against for weight will result in the person embarking on more habits that contribute to obesity instead of reducing it.


Sutin said, “Some people think, ‘Oh, well, you’re just hurting somebody’s feelings when you say something bad about their weight, but it will motivate them to lose weight, which will save their life.’ Our research has shown that very clearly this type of approach does not work and there are really serious consequences to it.”

The findings were published in Psychological Science.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.