I’ve seen a number of people sharing links that claim a study has shown a link between the body-positivity movement and unhealthful obesity. There’s only one problem: that’s not what the study actually said.
Experts have reacted to the study saying that the way the results were framed was misleading and sloppy, and dragged the author for not having legitimate evidence for any of their claims. “It’s [a] striking example of stretching the data to fit a presupposed opinion,” Yoni Freedhoff, MD, medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute at the University of Ottawa told Health News Review. In other words, this study is just concern-trolling in disguise. And what we do know is that weight bias and stigma can be harmful to people’s health.
“Considerable evidence shows that feeling stigmatized and shamed about one’s body weight is linked with psychological distress, unhealthy behaviors, physiological stress, and weight gain,” Dr. Puhl says. When people experience weight bias from healthcare providers, they’re more likely to put off getting care in the future — and that is dangerous.
The body positivity movement isn’t telling people that they should eat unhealthfully or that it’s good to be unhealthful. Rather, it’s about not passing judgement on people solely because of how they look. (I stress “how they look” as opposed to “what they weigh,” because people rarely judge others’ weight by actually weighing them. In the vast majority of circumstances, it’s based on a visual assessment.)
Being antagonistic to people who are overweight has not only not been shown as an effective weight less technique, but it’s also extremely rude. Conversations about weight loss are best left between patients and doctors.