Body shaming someone only leads to further weight gain, study shows
If you're truly intent on helping someone lose weight, instead offer a helping hand and constructive criticism
People who get teased about their body shape gain 33% more weight in the following 12 months. This is a pretty shocking statistic that flies in the face of body shaming and the reverse psychology underpinning it.
Banter between mates is one thing - needlessly ridiculing someone's weight to the point where it hinders their mental health and self esteem is a different matter.
Why body shaming doesn't work
Yes, obesity is a big problem – an epidemic gripping the Western world, with a direct influence on a variety of other diseases. But realise you are not helping anyone out if you belittle someone's weight. One recently published study certainly suggests you should stay clear of shaming someone.
People involved in the study were classed as overweight if they:
- Had a body mass index (BMI) above the 85th percentile
- Or had two parents who were overweight or obese
Subjects completed a questionnaire that asked whether they'd been teased about their weight. They were then followed for the next 15 years, with regular revisits.
Scientists found that those with high levels of teasing gained an average of .20 kg (.44 lbs) per year more than those who did not.
When asked to explain why body shaming was so detrimental, scientists said that the stigma may have increased the likelihood of people engaging in unhealthy behaviour, such as binge eating and avoiding exercise.
The stress of being picked on is another potential cause of weight gain. Stress leads to the release of the hormone cortisol, which in excessive amounts can trigger weight gain.
What does help someone lose weight?
Body shaming won't work, as this study showed.
What really drives weight loss is a combination of behaviour change plus tweaks to training and diet. Weight loss is more likely to happen when you make a food diary, start tracking your food intake and practice mindful eating. For this to occur, people need to be motivated.
Having your self-esteem ripped apart will do absolutely nothing to help form new and healthy habits.
In terms of training and diet, the huge volume of available information can actually make it difficult, as people don't know where to start. A solid strength training programme will help you strip fat and gain strength. Weights also burn a whopping amount of calories.
Fad diets make weight loss a tricky test, too. Generally speaking, losing weight is about getting into a calorie deficit.
Many popular diets instead pin the secret for success on cutting out certain food groups, such as carbs, fat or animal products. Others eliminate very specific items such as bread or milk.
In trying to follow a diet such as this, people often completely exclude the foods they like most. By working out how many calories you really need to lose weight, you can diet successfully and still enjoy a degree of flexibility with your lifestyle.