Many Britons fattist bullies, survey shows
Monday 13 October 2008
Fat-related jibes are "endemic" among Britons with nine out of 10 overweight people experiencing name-calling because of their excess pounds, researchers said today.
The old adage that bullies are often bullied themselves applied, with many of those hurling insults emerging as overweight or obese.
The paradox was revealed in a survey of 1000 adults which also calculated the respondents' body mass indexes (BMIs).
Almost half of people (46 per cent) surveyed admitted to having referred to or thought of an overweight person by a derogatory name.
This negative attitude was shared by many of those who had felt the brunt of insults, with a third (33 per cent) of obese or very obese respondents among the name-callers.
The top four most hateful names were identified as the unimaginative "fatty", "fat", "lard arse" and "fat b*****d", while other common jibes included "porker", "thunder thighs", "Mr Blobby" and "Ten Ton Tess".
Researchers found that despite the rise of political correctness, such weight-related name-calling was most widespread amongst the young.
The numbers calling names fell the older people were, from more than half of 16 to 24-year-olds surveyed (56 per cent) to just over a third (35 per cent) of 55 to 64-year-olds.
Misguided banter could be why men were readier to insult friends and relatives in this way, with nearly a third (28 per cent) doing so, in comparison to just 11 per cent of women.
And overweight people in London faced a harder time than their Scottish counterparts, with twice as many Londoners (30 per cent) prepared to call a friend or relative a nasty name compared to Scots (15 per cent).
Mandy Cassidy, a psychotherapist with the weight loss specialist LighterLife, which commissioned the survey, said: "It's sad that adults now find such behaviour acceptable, and particularly so among the younger age groups, as they could well carry through these views as they get older, thus increasing the problem even further.
"Just because someone is overweight, it doesn't mean it's acceptable to insult them. This type of prejudice isn't tolerated in any other walk of life - so we shouldn't allow it here."
Dr Ian W Campbell, of the charity Weight Concern, said: "These findings are very concerning. People who have a weight problem need support and encouragement, not ridicule.
"Few people want to be very overweight and most would love to be able to change. That process needs support, not criticism; it needs incentive, not punishment."
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