Danger of Weight Bias Internalization

A recent study conducted at The University of Pennsylvania points to potential dangers of weight bias internalization. While the results are mixed, there is new evidence to support the association between weight bias internalization and risk for metabolic syndrome.

Weight bias includes (WBI) pervasive negative stereotypes and prejudice regarding an individual’s overweight, such as attributions of responsibility and/or incompetence. New research suggests that adults with obesity seeking weight-loss treatment, who scored higher on a WBI scale were more likely to have metabolic syndrome compared to those with lower scores.

Rebecca L. Pearl, PhD of University of Pennsylvania explains, “Internalized weight bias could elicit a chronic stress response similar to that observed in reaction to experiences of weight stigma, such as heightened levels of oxidative stress and cortisol secretion.” What does this mean in English? The act of negative, hurtful stigmatization may actually lead to a state of physiological arousal that mimics high-stress situations, therefore hindering weight loss ability.

Researchers analyzed data from 178 adults with obesity who were already enrolled in a weight-loss trial program. Of the 178, 159 completed the Weight Bias Internalization Scale as well as the Patient Health Questionnaire in order to assess any depressive symptoms. After diving deeper into the results, researchers found that only the relationships between weight bias and triglycerides was statistically significant. According to this information, adults with a higher weight bias score are more likely to have high triglycerides.

Peal explains that for health care providers, it is important to be aware that many patients with obesity have experienced weight-based stigmatization and some may have internalized these messages. “When discussing weight with patients, health care providers can play a role in preventing and reducing this internalization by treating patients with respect, discussing weight with sensitivity and without judgement, and giving support and encouragement to patients who struggle with weight management.”

This research is especially important to all of us at Medical Metabolic Specialists because it highlights how we’re different from your average weight loss program. At MMS, we take pride in getting to know each and every one of our patients from the moment they first walk in the door. We prioritize positive thinking and encourage our patients to re-frame how they see themselves. Finally, we’re honest about the fact that weight loss alone is not the key to happiness – it has to come from within. At MMS, we support our patients every step of the way and take a holistic approach to weight loss, including positive thinking.

Original Source: Healio 

Last updated on February 26, 2017, posted in: News, Recent research by
Comments are closed.