The National Institutes of Health Spent $167,045 on Study to Fight “Fat-Shaming”
Although obesity increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease, which kills or shortens the lives of millions of Americans, the National Institutes of Health has spent some $167,045 on a study to help fight “fat shaming”. The bill will only grow, as the study is scheduled to continue until 2020.
The money is funding research at the University of Pennsylvania, which explores how “weight stigma” may cause people to actually eat more—in the same way that the stigma associated with smoking cigarettes caused people to smoke more.
Oh wait, that didn’t happen. The stigma on smoking is primarily what caused its decline, not levying sin taxes nor telling people about the risks. People smoked because it was cool, and when it was no longer cool, they stopped. Making obesity “cool”, or at the very least socially acceptable, will only encourage people’s bad habits.
But maybe there are some merits to the study. Let’s take a closer look.
According to the grant, the researcher Rebecca Pearl says:
In a randomized controlled trial, I will test the effects on long-term weight loss of a novel clinical intervention designed to help individuals with obesity cope with weight stigma, combined with standard behavioral weight loss. . .
I believe that reducing WBI [weight bias internalization] will improve long-term weight loss by increasing physical activity, a behavior consistently associated with greater long-term weight loss.
The text of the grant goes on to claim that:
The proposed research project could have significant clinical implications for enhancing the treatment of obesity and reducing the negative effects of weight stigma. . .[because] weight-based stigma may contribute to weight gain and poor physical health in persons with obesity. . .
The proposed study seeks to improve long-term weight loss, as well as cardiometabolic and psychosocial health, by combining a behavioral weight loss intervention with a novel cognitive-behavioral intervention designed to alleviate weight-based stigma and its ill effects on health-promoting behaviors (e.g., physical activity).
Well, maybe there’s something to it, although the logic does run contrary to what we’ve found when it comes to breaking other habits or addictions. One can only imagine how many people would drink until FUBAR if there were no social stigma get getting completely and entirely wasted.
Likewise, the researcher does seem to have an axe to grind, according to findings from the Free Beacon. For example, a study from 2012 coauthored by Pearl argued that America needs more “positive media portrayals of obese individuals” in television and film.
She also published a study in 2015 called Experiencing weight bias in an unjust world. It seems odd that a researcher would title her paper with the moral pronouncement that “fat shaming” is “unjust”. Obesity is an entirely preventable problem. It’s deadly, and costs taxpayers billions every year. The stigma exists for a reason, and no amount of research is going to change the minds of ordinary people.
As such, this study is nothing but cash wasted on someone’s pet project.