Americans are less likely to blame or shame obese people for their condition compared to the British, according to a report in the British Journal, while those in the U.S. believe obesity may have an underlying medical reason.
More than 6,000 adults in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2017 and 2020 took part in an online anonymous Google survey about the causes of obesity. The results of the survey were presented at the European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO) this week, according to the International Business Times.
The findings showed that more Americans think obesity is a problem because the individual was blamed for the condition rather than receiving proper medical help to treat it, according to the news report.
The survey revealed the attitude among the U.K. residents remained the same, where 1 in 3 adults think the individual is completely responsible for being obese and did not think obesity is caused by an underlying medical condition, according to the article.
The investigators said the survey shed light on the importance of initiatives to stop the stigma associated with obesity and societal weight bias.
Previous studies suggested that weight bias is prevalent in the U.K. compared to the U.S. and seven other countries, while the abrasive attitude toward those suffering from obesity there hindered efforts to take on the obesity epidemic, according to the article.
“If someone has excess weight, there may be numerous factors at work, meaning it’s not due to poor discipline or willpower,” co-author of the study, Joe Nadglowski of the Obesity Action Coalition in the USA, said in the article.
“We’d like to see public policy experts, health professionals, and the media look at these findings, step back, and work on ways to challenge and change public perception of obesity. Maybe that’s through public education campaigns or strong policies to prevent weight-based discrimination,” Nadglowski added.
In the United States, “fat-shaming represents a major concern for children and adults in the U.S. It affects all aspects of child development and adult interaction. To the extent it is declining in the U.S., that is wonderful,” Barry Popkin, Ph.D., who has published studies on obesity, told Fox News.
“Being obese is a disease with major environmental and genetic causes. We need to address those factors and not shame individuals with obesity,” Popkin, also the W. R. Kenan Jr. distinguished professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, added.
According to the World Health Organization, obesity stigma can cause exclusion and marginalization, including not receiving adequate health care or being discriminated against in educational settings and in the workplace.