One of the biggest barriers to weight loss is being criticised by others, new research finds.
People trying to lose weight are sometimes sabotaged by others making unkind or sarcastic remarks, such as “You are going to gain it all back!”
Attacks from others may be motivated by jealousy and feelings of negativity about their own lifestyle.
Afraid of being judged themselves, cruel people lash out at others first.
The conclusions come from a study of 40 people who had lost an average of 77 pounds (35 kg) and were trying to maintain their weight loss.
Researchers interviewed them about their experiences.
Dr Lynsey Romo, the study’s author, said:
“Many times, when someone loses weight, that person’s efforts are undermined by friends, family or coworkers.
This study found that people experience a ‘lean stigma’ after losing weight, such as receiving snide remarks about healthy eating habits or having people tell them that they’re going to gain all of the weight back.”
People who had lost weight said they used all sorts of techniques to try and deal with other people’s comments, Dr Romo explained:
“All 40 of the study participants reported having people in their lives try to belittle or undermine their weight loss efforts.
However, the study found participants used specific communication strategies to cope with lean stigma and maintain both their weight loss and their personal relationships.”
Techniques used included telling people they had lost weight for ‘health reasons’ and to ‘have more energy’.
They also tried to keep their healthy eating subtle.
Dr Romo said:
“Study participants would go out of their way to make clear that they were not judging other people’s choices.
For example, participants would stress that they had changed their eating habits for health reasons, or in order to have more energy.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Health Communication (Romo, 2018).