Adventures in Euphamisms

Society has long mocked the idea of fat people saying they are “big-boned,” but it turns out they may have been on to something.

In Study 1, participants’ attitudes toward people labeled as fat were less favorable than were their attitudes toward people labeled as overweight. In Studies 2 and 3, although participants chose similar-sized figures to depict fat and overweight targets, weight stereotypes and weight attitudes were more negative toward people labeled as fat than those labeled as overweight

Taken together, these three studies indicate that the weight label “fat” biases participants to respond more negatively than does the weight label “overweight,” even though these labels refer to the same social group.

And here’s another very interesting but completely unrelated finding from the same paper:

In particular, fat people were the least favored of the 10 social groups presented, followed by overweight people and Muslim people, who were rated similarly.

The authors are Paul Brochu and Victoria Esses of the University of Ontario. It’s yet another sign of American decline that a Canadian University is at the forefront of obesity judgment research.

On an separate note, I’d be interested in the ratings of people who are categorized as “calorically challenged.”


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