We've heard it before: Body positivity is "promoting obesity," say some.

Well, surprise surprise — it's not the body positivity that's damaging to people's health, it's the fat shaming itself.

stepping on scale
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According to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania, fat shaming a person, whether to "inspire" them to lose weight or otherwise, does way more harm than good.

"We are finding it [fat shaming] has quite the opposite effect," said professor Rebecca Pearl, one of the study's authors. "When people feel shamed because of their weight, they are more likely to avoid exercise and consume more calories to cope with this stress.

"In this study, we identified a significant relationship between the internalization of weight bias and having a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, which is a marker of poor health."

waist circumference
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Markers of metabolic syndrome, including high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and a larger waist circumference, are associated with conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

While the study only examined 159 obese adults, it found that those who had weight-bias internalization were three times more likely to have metabolic syndrome.

"Health care providers, the media, and the general public should be aware [that] blaming and shaming patients with obesity is not an effective tool for promoting weight loss," said professor Tom Wadden, another co-author.

injecting insulin
photo: iStock Photo

Health-care providers, Wadden added, "can play a critical role in decreasing this internalization by treating patients with respect, discussing weight with sensitivity and without judgment, and giving support and encouragement to patients who struggle with weight management — behaviors everyone should display when interacting with people with obesity."

An important point, considering many doctors are prime suspects in the crime of fat shaming to motivate their patients to lose weight. Maybe once they get their hands on this study out of UPenn, they'll revamp their approach to serving their patients — and not shaming them.

h/t The Telegraph