Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

Science Weighs in on Body Size Stigma

It’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week! Because size stigma is a cultural problem, that is, large people have difficulty due to the negative meanings society ascribes to fat, they fare better when they understand the physical effects that stigma has on their nervous systems and can resist internalizing such arbitrary prejudices.

*STUDY: “Associations of weight stigma with cortisol and oxidative stress independent of adiposity, “Tomiyama, A. Janet; Epel, Elissa S.; McClatchey, Trissa M.; Poelke, Gina; Kemeny, Margaret E.; McCoy, Shannon K.; Daubenmier, Jennifer, Health Psychology, Vol 33(8), Aug 2014, 862-867. doi: 10.1037/hea0000107.
Result: “Independent of abdominal fat, weight stigma was significantly related to measures of cortisol…as well as high oxidative stress. Perceived stress mediated the relationship between weight stigma consciousness and the cortisol awakening process.
Conclusion: “…Weight stigma is associated with greater biochemical stress, independent of level of adiposity. It is possible that weight stigma may contribute to poor health underlying some forms of obesity.”
What can you do? Understand that the last thing you want to feel when you are the victim of stigmatization is stressed that you are at fault. This reaction increases anxiety physically and damages your body at the cellular level. Avoid getting angry, although it is appropriate to stand up for yourself. Do not internalize what people say about you or your body and view stigmatizers as poorly informed and/or uncompassionate people.
*STUDY: “Obesity stigmatization as the status quo: Structural considerations and prevalence among young adults in the U.S., “Suman Ambwani, Katherine M. Thomas, Christopher J. Hopwood, Sara A. Moss, Carlos M. Grilo, Eating Behaviors, Vol. 15, Issue 3, Aug, 2014, pp 366–370.
Result: “At least one stigmatizing attitude was endorsed by 92.5% of respondents… Distinct clusters of negative attitudes were identified involving beliefs that ‘obese people suffer’ and ‘obese people are inferior.”
Conclusion: “Data suggest that large proportions of young U.S. adults harbor negative attitudes toward obese persons….related to pitying the obese and those related to perceiving the obese with harsh judgment.”
What can you do? Resist accepting anyone’s judgment of you. Make sure you don’t pick up others’ attitudes and pity or feel sorry for yourself. Rather, go all out to replace self-judgment with self-compassion. No one can do this for you. You can’t force society to stop judging you, but you can stop judging yourself.

*STUDY: “Obesity bias in primary care providers,” Khandalavala BN, Rojanala A, Geske JA, Koran-Scholl JB, Guck TP, Department of Family Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Family Medicine, [2014, 46(7):532-535]. (PMID:25058546)
Result: “More experienced primary care professionals reported greater bias toward obese people than less experienced colleagues.”
Conclusion: “Ongoing continuing education that recognizes the wide prevalence of obesity, encourages respect for people of size, and mitigates obesity stigma should be promoted for all providers, particularly those who have been in practice for many years.”
What can you do? When you have a choice of primary care providers (or, extrapolating, perhaps any kind of health care provider) pick a doc on the younger rather than the older side. If you already have a more experienced provider, speak up and challenge weight or fat stigmatizing comments. Do not allow yourself to be mistreated or undertreated because of your size.

Success Comes at the End of a Crooked Line
What’s Your Normal?

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.karenrkoenig.com/

This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.