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Less exercise due to weight discrimination

Press Association logoPress Association 8/03/2017 Ella Pickover

People who think they are discriminated against because of their weight are less likely to exercise than those who do not, a new British study suggests.

Experts examined information on more than 5400 men and women who took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

People who took part in the study reported experiences of weight discrimination in everyday life and frequency of light, moderate and vigorous physical activities.

Almost five per cent of participants reported facing stigma because of their weight.

The researchers, led by a team at University College London, found that among participants who reported weight discrimination, 10.3 per cent reported no regular physical activity and 18.3 per cent reported only light activity at least once a week.

Overall, they found that perceived weight discrimination was associated with almost 60 per cent higher odds of being inactive.

And those who had been stigmatised because of their weight were also 30 per cent less likely to engage in moderate or vigorous activity at least once a week.

"Individuals who perceive discrimination may be more self-conscious about exercising in front of people for fear that it might attract undesirable attention," the report's authors wrote.

"Internalisation of weight bias may also result in a loss of self-efficacy and motivation to achieve goals, leaving people wondering why they should bother trying to be active."

The authors point out that such discrimination can have "harmful consequences" to a person's emotional well-being.

There is some evidence that people who have suffered discrimination because of their weight are more likely to increase intake of high-fat and high-calorie foods, decrease dietary quality and limit physical activity, they added.

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