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New Study Says Self-Stigma May Increase Risk of Metabolic Syndrome




There has been growing evidence that weight-based stigma can contribute to negative health outcomes in overweight and obese individuals. A new study looked closely at how those struggling with obesity have internalized weight-based stigma and shame, and how such feelings increase health risks, specifically metabolic syndrome — a cluster of risk factors that increase the likelihood of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.

The participants in the study were a part of a larger weight loss study in which they completed the Weight Bias Internalization Scale — a measure of the extent to which individuals apply weight stereotypes to themselves. Subjects also completed a questionnaire which the team used to determine participants' criteria for depression and metabolic syndrome.

The study ultimately found that those with high levels of internalized weight bias were found to be at a three times greater risk of metabolic syndrome. Subjects with high weight bias internalization were also six times more likely to have high triglyceride levels, which can lead to atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fatty substances in the wall of the arteries that can raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.

"The act of self-stigmatizing may lead to a state of physiological arousal that itself increases risk for metabolic abnormalities through biological pathways (e.g., cortisol secretion),” the study authors explain. “This state of physiological and affective stress may also lead individuals to cope by eating unhealthy food or binge eating."

Now more than ever, multidisciplinary efforts in healthcare are essential to effectively supporting patients to achieve a healthy weight. The authors note that, “Providers can play a critical role in decreasing this internalization by treating patients with respect, discussing weight with sensitivity and without judgment, and giving support and encouragement to patients who struggle with weight management.”

If you are a provider that is new to weight loss, and are unsure about how to sensitively approach weight with your patients, learn more about how you can access Robard’s complimentary educational tools that teach you how to get the conversation started. For dieters who struggle with internalized stigma, try these tips and affirmations to help you develop more positive body image through your weight loss journey.

Source: Medical News Today


Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation

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