Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Mean Comments Don't Help the Overweight
Yale diet scientists have discovered that nagging people about being overweight is not helpful.
In fact, stigmatizing those on diets makes them abandon the diets and seek more food. Many people would respond to this study with an obtuse "Duh."
Of course overweight people don't want to be teased and made to feel like self-saboteurs. Though this seems obvious now, that response comes after decades of treating the overweight as social and physical pariahs.
So, "Duh" really marks an advance in thinking. It seems as if people are finally realizing that obesity is not an abject absence of self-control and a failure of free will.
This is not to say that obesity is healthy. It isn't. But clearly, shame does more harm than good.