Britons more likely to ‘fat-shame’ obese people than Americans

Britons are more likely to blame obese people for their condition than Americans, according to a new survey.

The survey polled more than 6,000 adults in both countries and found only 25 per cent of American respondents blamed obese people for their condition, down from 33 per cent since the last such poll three years ago.

By contrast, British attitudes towards so-called weight-shaming have not changed in those three years, with one in three Britons still rejecting the notion obesity is a medical problem rather than a matter of choice.

The survey results will be presented at the European and International Congress on Obesity, which is being conducted online this week.

Researchers who worked on the surveys said the findings underlined the need for initiatives to combat societal weight bias.

“Weight bias causes both physical and psychological harm to people with obesity. It is an important barrier to progress in reducing its health impact,” Ted Kyle from ConscienHealth, an advocacy organisation in the US, said in a statement.

“While attitudes appear to be improving in the US, our study finds that blaming people for their weight is still commonplace in both countries.”

Joe Nadglowski from the Obesity Action Coalition in the US who co-authored the research, said: “If someone has excess weight, there may be numerous factors at work, meaning it’s not due to poor discipline or willpower.

“We’d like to see public policy experts, health professionals, and the media look at these findings, step back and work on ways to challenge and change public perception of obesity. Maybe that’s through public education campaigns or strong policies to prevent weight-based discrimination.”

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