In a world obsessed with appearances, it’s easy to presume that someone’s size is an indication of their health, personality and intelligence, which is why people who are overweight or obese are often discriminated against. It doesn’t help that fat shaming, or the act of insulting somebody over their body weight, is on the rise.

Recently, thousands of people across America downloaded a new phone app called Carrot Hunger, a ‘talking’ calorie counter that insults the user and shames them on social media if they overshoot their daily calorie intake. While some people seem to find this funny, many others have reacted negatively. The big question is, why would people like to have themselves insulted? Can fat shaming and self-loathing push you to lose weight? Read on to find out what the experts have to say.

Get Support & Encouragement
Rene Ficek is a registered dietitian and lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating, a family-owned Illinois-based company that provides healthy meals. She claims that fat shaming is not just morally, but scientifically wrong. And it doesn’t work. In fact, it is most likely doing more harm than good. She goes on to explain that it’s the individual needs of an obese child or adult, which are overlooked. Obesity research has repeatedly shown that support and encouragement are key factors in getting weight under control. Group participation in an open and friendly environment can help individuals discuss their weight issues. Weight loss groups and online communities have been extremely successful in helping individuals achieve their weight loss goals. An empathetic ear and a supportive attitude may be exactly what the obese individual needs to lose weight and improve overall health.

Love Yourself A Little More
People with eating or weight problems are often full of shame and low self-worth to begin with, states Florida-based Karen R Koenig, author, psychotherapist and eating coach. She advocates that since they are already ashamed of themselves, the only thing that works is helping them love and value themselves enough to take good care of their bodies. After all, when we love something, we automatically take good care of it. She recommends that positive reinforcement is a good start. Tell yourself that you’re worth good things and better health, and work towards it.

Pick Positive Visualization
Holistic nutritionist Veronique Cardon, founder of The Cogni-Diet, claims that even when some people need lots of encouragement, tough love is not about shaming. Instead, she recommends positive visualization from a physical and emotional point of view. Only positive possibilities can be motivating enough to make a person embark on a new path. She suggests celebrating small victories, journaling to internalize successes, and group interactions that will be a source of encouragement, empathy and inspiration.

Obesity is not something to mock or blame, and understanding where it stems from is the first step to helping someone deal with it. Applying rigorous diet and exercise, or fat shaming an obese person will make things worse. What will in fact work, is the power of positive reinforcement.

Read More:
This Fat Shaming Weight Loss App Adds Insult To Injury
Help Your Child Fight Obesity

Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.