(HealthDay News) – Instead of motivating people to lose weight, weight discrimination may increase the risk of becoming or remaining obese, according to a study published online July 24 in PLOS ONE.

Angelina R. Sutin, PhD, and Antonio Terracciano, PhD, from the Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, analyzed data from 6,157 community-dwelling residents of the United States (≥50 years) whose height and weight were measured in 2006 and 2010 and who were surveyed for experience with discrimination.

The researchers found that after adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, education, and baseline body mass index, those who reported weight discrimination were significantly more likely to become obese at follow-up (odds ratio, 2.54). Similarly, those who reported weight discrimination and were obese at baseline were significantly more likely to remain obese (odds ratio, 3.2). In contrast, other forms of discrimination, such as discrimination based on sex or race, were not associated with obesity risk.

“Weight discrimination, which is often justified because it is thought to help encourage obese individuals to lose weight, can actually have the opposite effect: it is associated with the development and maintenance of obesity,” Sutin and Terracciano conclude.

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