Labeling obesity as a disease may actually make the obese less concerned about their weight and less likely to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Researchers from the Universities of Richmond and Minnesota studied the responses of 700 participants who took a survey after being randomly assigned to read an article which labeled obesity as a disease, an article which was simply a public health message about weight, or an article which said obesity was not a disease. Results showed obese participants were less concerned about their weight if they read the article labeling obesity as a disease. They also were more likely to choose a high-calorie sandwich option when asked to pick from a menu.
“Together, these findings suggest that the messages individuals hear about the nature of obesity have self-regulatory consequences,” study author Crystal Hoyt was quoted as saying.