Stop Calling Young Girls ‘Fat’

Encouraging fitness activities and demonstrating healthy eating don't make kids feel bad about themselves. Fat shaming makes obesity worse.

A new study by UCLA researchers for JAMA Pediatrics revealed that young girls who were called “fat” as children were more likely to become obese as adults. Researchers concluded that 10-year-old girls who had been told they were “too fat” were more likely to find themselves in the obese range of the body mass index by age 19.

1,188 of approximately 2,300 girls surveyed answered “yes” when asked if they had ever been told they were “too fat.” Girls who had been told they were “fat” by a friend, peer, or non-family member were 1.4 times more likely to be obese — while a girl who was told the same by a family member was 1.62 more likely.

“The study was conducted as a response to those who believe shaming people into losing weight is an effective way to deal with the obesity epidemic,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

... “Making people feel bad about their weight can backfire. It can be demoralizing. And we know that when people feel bad, they often reach out to food for comfort.”

... the UCLA study is not the only proof that fat-shaming is an ineffective weight loss method that can result in an opposite effect for adults, too. They cite a Florida State University College of Medicine study in which Americans who were overweight in 2006 were “two and a half times more likely to end up obese four years later than those were hadn’t been fat-shamed.”

Moral of the story: Stop calling kids fat. It’s not good for anyone — and may have long term effects on their physical and mental health. [emphasis mine]

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