According to an on-line dictionary stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person”. Synonyms of stigma include shame, disgrace and dishonor. Weight stigmatization is essentially shaming and blaming people about their body weight.
In efforts to promote awareness and ultimately prevention of weight bias in our culture, The Binge Eating Disorder Association sponsors a week long Weight Stigma Awareness Week annually in September. This year’s theme, held September 21st through 25th, is “Bias and Bullying: Weight Stigma in Diverse Communities.”
Studies suggest that weight bias may actually INCREASE the likelihood of obesity, binge eating and staying obese.
Weight stigma is wide spread throughout our society including areas of employment, education and health/mental health care. Studies indicate that weight stigma is on the rise in our society. Weight stigma often is internalized by individuals which can lead to shame, hopelessness, isolation, etc.
A recent study published in Pediatric Obesity (July 2015) found that weight-based bullying is the most prevalent form of bullying in our youth. This study found that more kids are being teased about their body weight than academic ability, physical/cognitive disables, sexual orientation, race & ethnicity or religion. According to the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, the consequences of weight-based bullying increases our children’s risk for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, poor body image, suicidal thoughts, poor academic performance and avoidance of health promoting behaviors.
According to the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, family members are one of the biggest sources of weight bias. In one study of over 2,400 overweight and obese women, 62% of the study participants reported that on multiple occasions they had been stigmatized by their families because of their body weight.
The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) has lots of great on-line events during Weight Stigma Awareness week including featured bloggers, social media events and tool kits. To learn more click here.
Here are just a few stats on dieting:
1. 95% of diets fail (weight is regained). ***Note: Diets fail–NOT people***
2. 20-25% of dieters progress to disordered eating or clinical eating disorders.
3. Studies show that dieting among female adolescents is a shared risk factor for purging, binge eating and overweight.
4. Food restriction increases risk for overeating and binge eating.
5. Studies suggest that dieting is a predictor of future weight GAIN.
6. Making people feel bad about their weight is a strong predictor of obesity.
7. It has been speculated that weight cycling (gaining and losing of weight) leads to chronic inflammation which is linked to cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
The Science Daily Study: “Simply being called ‘fat’ makes young girls more likely to become obese: Trying to be thin is like trying to be tall”.
The Science Daily Study: “Dieting does not work, researchers say”.
We all know that bullying is harmful to our children. And researchers and eating disorder professionals are now just starting to understand that bullying can contribute to disordered eating. If a pre-teen or teen has an eating disorder they could be using their eating disorder behaviors to cope with being bullied. To read more about how disordered eating/eating disorders are believed to be “helpful” in coping with life stresses please visit here.
**Eating disorders are described as maladaptive coping skills-behaviors that are harmful overtime.
Today, February 22nd, kicks off Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Sponsored by The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), awareness week runs February 22nd-28th and the goals are to impart the seriousness of eating disorders, to improve public understanding of eating disorders and increase early detection and intervention in order to increase rates of recovery for eating eating disorders.
This year’s theme for is “I had no idea”. There are often misconceptions about eating disorders in communities, families and even in the medical profession. This year’s theme, “I had no idea”, does a great job of tackling some of the misconceptions around eating disorders.