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January 26, 2017

Study: Body shaming can literally make people sick

People who internalize verbal bullying aimed at body image were found to be at greater risk for health problems

Body shaming may do more than hurt someone’s feelings, and it certainly won’t motivate the person to get into shape, a study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania claims.

Instead, the researchers found that fat shaming someone who is obese can actually lead to increased health risk factors associated with heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related health problems.

The research, published in Obesity, the journal of The Obesity Society, on Jan. 26, analyzed 159 adults with obesity to compare those who had internalized body shaming aimed at them to those who didn’t internalize verbal bullying.

The research team, led by Rebecca Pearl, Ph.D., a Penn assistant professor of psychology, along with collaborators from Penn's Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, found the former group to be sicker and “three times more likely to have metabolic syndrome (the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems) and six times more likely to have high triglycerides as compared to participants with low internalization.”

Read the full study findings here.

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