For many people, a decision to lose weight isn't just made because of the obvious health advantages but to change the way people think about them. So it's a shame that new research suggest that, in the minds of friends and family, a fat person is always fat, regardless of how much weight they lose.
The research, carried out by the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, The University of Manchester and Monash University, examined how anti-fat prejudice persists even after women lose weight.
To do that, the team of researchers asked participants to read short descriptions of women who had lost 30kg, stayed consistently fat or stayed consistently slim. Then, the participants were asked their opinions on the women — including how attractive they found them — as well as being asked about their general attitude towards fat people. Janet Latner, one of the researchers from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, explains the results, which are also published in the journal Obesity:
"Those who had been obese in the past were perceived as less attractive than those who had always been thin, despite having identical height and weight.
"The findings demonstrate that residual obesity stigma persists against individuals who have ever been obese, even when they have lost substantial amounts of weight."
Perhaps predictably, the researchers blame the effect on a widespread societal belief that weight is highly controllable. While there is evidence that both supports and refutes the assumption that it's easy to shed kilos, it's undeniable that weight is thought of negatively — a notion regularly amplified by the popular press.