What’s all the buzz about? Our fabulous DiSH lab team: Dr. T and Grad student Jeff Hunger! The recent publication of their article “Weight Labeling and Obesity: A Longitudinal Study of Girls Aged 10 to 19 Years” captured the attention of major news outlets from all around the world. Huffington Post, Healthfinder, Yahoo News India, LA Times, Reuters Health, Canada News and Science Daily are just a few that covered their study.
We’re going national! And it’s a good thing that we’re reaching people who are not only from the United States. Many people do not understand the long-term effects of weight labeling and it’s correlation with obesity. Often times, parents and such, engage in negative feedback such as calling their children “fat” and hoped that it might act as a motivator to help them lose weight. However, results from Dr. T’s and Jeffery Hunger’s study indicates that young girls who are called or labeled “too fat” are more likely to be obese ten years later.
The study looked at 2,000 young girls at age 10 and followed them over nine years. Over half of the girls were labeled “fat” and reported that of those remarks, 60 percent came from family members and 40 percent came from friends and teachers. It seems that weight labeling is an independent predictor of weight ten years later.
So stigmatizing weight isn’t going to help people lose weight. What then should parents, family, and friends say instead of labeling their loved ones as “too fat?”
In the words of Dr. T:
“I think the focus of the conversation needs to change. Right now, we have a laser focus on weight instead of health, but many studies show that weight is a really imprecise indicator of actual health. Parents can talk to their child about adopting healthy behaviors without once mentioning weight.”
For more information, watch Jeffery Hunger’s live interview with Huff Post!