The embarrassment of being overweight causes people to gain weight, not lose it.

"Fat Shaming" - Doesn't help weight loss

In a study of 2,944 UK adults over four years, those who reported experiencing weight prejudice gained more weight than those who did not.

  • Being treated disrespectfully, receiving poor service in shops, and being harassed.

The research contradicts the common opinion that 'fat shaming' might encourage weight loss.

  • On average, people who reported weight judgment gained over 2lbs (0.95kg) whereas those who didn't lost 1. 5lbs (.71kg.)

Previous studies have found that people who experience discrimination report comfort eating. Stress responses to discrimination can increase appetite, particularly for unhealthy, energy-dense food.

  • Weight discrimination has also been shown to make people feel "less confident about taking part in physical activity" so they tend to avoid it according to Senior Author, Professor Jane Wardle.

Of the 2,944 eligible participants in the study, 5% reported weight discrimination.

  • "There is no justification for discriminating against people because of their weight," "Our results show that weight discrimination does not encourage weight loss, and suggest that it may even exacerbate weight gain." - Dr. Sarah Jackson (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health & lead study author).

Many obese patients report being treated disrespectfully by doctors because of their weight.

  • According to professor Wardle - "Everyone, including doctors, should stop blaming and shaming people for their weight and offer support, and where appropriate, treatment."


Cava, E., Yeat, N. C., & Mittendorfer, B. (2017). Preserving Healthy Muscle during Weight Loss. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 8(3), 511–519.

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