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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Obesity Stigma

I wasn't sure where to put this post. I've been thinking about the stigma that is attached to obesity a little too much lately. I was reading a study that was done in England. They showed people picture of mismatched couple, one fat and one thin and asked them their opinion of the fit person in the couple, based on the picture. They then showed another group pictures of the same people, but paired with somebody closer to their own size and strangely enough they same people where give a far more favorable rating...I know this is a painful subject for both the obese and for most of their spouses, but the fact is through out human society and down through the ages, with very few exceptions obesity is a stigmatized condition. Obesity was stigmatized in medieval Japan in part, at least, because it was viewed as the karmic consequence of a moral failing in a Buddhist context. The stigma in Europe was based on the Christian deadly sin of gluttony. Stigmatization of obesity is not new.  A study done by the International Journal of Obesity says that stigmatization is a common experience, and that obese subjects frequently engage in some effort to cope with stigma. More frequent exposure to stigmatization was associated with greater psychological distress, more attempts to cope, and more severe obesity. Quite the catch twenty-two and further evidence that nobody really wants to be fat. Yet here we are confronting the obvious, obesity contributes to and causes a wide variety of health and quality of life issue and a high degree of social stigmatization and yet here we are in America with so much of our population so big that it we are running the risk of altering the earths rotation because all the weight is on one side of the ball...Why don't more people get up off the couch and do something about it? I don't know. I'm wondering about depression, anti-depressants, something in the water, pesticides...It may just be in our biology or our culture. and that's what I've been thinking. Now I'm going to stop thinking about this for a couple minutes and go read some a self-help book about controlling obsessive thoughts.

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