Call it whatever you want, weight stigma is one of the most tolerated social bias with devastating effects.
It doesn’t matter how old you are. Or whether you’re a woman or a man, according to a new study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. While studies of weight stigma often focus on women, a new study suggests men may experience this type of discrimination as often as women.
“Given the popular notion that concerns about body weight and weight stigma are primarily ‘women’s issues,’ our study highlights the importance of recognizing weight stigma as a problem that both men and women experience,” said the study’s lead author Mary Himmelstein, in a news release.
The study is the first comprehensive analysis to look at weight stigma among men. More than 1,500 men participated in the research. They answered questions about their weight, dieting behavior and history of experiencing weight stigma.
Unlike women, who tend to experience more weight stigma as their body weight increases, men in this study reported experiencing the greatest stigma when their body mass index indicated they were underweight or having obesity, relative to normal weight and overweight.
“Our study shows that men should be included in studies of weight stigma as a vulnerable population instead of simply a comparison group to women,” Himmelstein said. “Given that most men reporting weight stigma in our study were actively trying to lose weight, our findings indicate there may be opportunities for supportive interventions to help men cope with weight stigma as part of weight management or weight loss programs.”
The study found:
- Four out of 10 men experienced weight stigma.
- Men who reported experiencing stigma were younger, less likely to be married, more likely to have obesity and more likely to have tried to lose weight in the past year.
- Weight stigma occurred most often in adolescence and childhood. Teasing and verbal abuse were the most common forms of stigma from peers, family members and strangers.
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