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Rudd Radar

Stigma Hinders Weight Loss and Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors

May 8, 2014

"Obesity stigma contributes to unhealthy behaviors, interferes with weight-loss efforts, and reinforces obesity," according to Rudd Center’s Deputy Director, Rebecca Puhl, PhD, who recently wrote an article in Medscape about how weight stigma impacts weight loss and healthy lifestyle behaviors.

According to Puhl, despite consensus that disease stigma undermines public health, this principle has primarily been ignored in efforts to address obesity. There is even a public perception that stigma might serve as a tool to facilitate improved health and weight-loss. However, Puhl asserts that instead of providing motivation for improved health, societal stigmatization has promoted adverse consequences for health and well-being.

"To effectively prevent and treat obesity, the evidence points to the importance of recognizing the barriers that weight stigma creates in these efforts, and implementing strategies to reduce this harmful stigma," writes Puhl.