Scale of bullying Britain revealed as obese targeted

Nine out of 10 overweight Britons have been called a derogatory name about their weight, and yet many who insult others are overweight or obese themselves.

The survey of 1000 adults, conducted for weight loss specialist LighterLife, reveals the shocking scale of abuse faced by overweight Britons, including:

  • Weight-related name-calling is endemic in today’s Britain, with 90 per cent of overweight saying they have been victims. The top four most hateful names are “fatty”, “fat”, “lard arse”, and “fat b*****d”. Others include “fat slag”, “porker”, “thunder thighs”, “Mr Blobby” and “Ten Ton Tess”
  • Forty six per cent of people admit to having called, referred to, or thought of an overweight person by a derogatory name because of their weight
  • Yet the percentage of bullies who are themselves overweight is surprisingly high – 33 per cent of obese or very obese respondents admitted to this

Name-calling is a generational problem – the numbers calling names decrease on a sliding scale from 16-24-year-olds (56 per cent) through 25-34-year-olds (54 per cent), 35-44-year-olds (44 per cent), and 45-54-year-olds (41 per cent), to 55-64-year-olds (35 per cent).

When it comes to insulting friends and relatives, men are the most cruel, at 28 per cent – nearly a third – whereas many more women are restrained, at just 11 per cent. Again, the problem reduces with age – 29 per cent of 16-24-year-olds will call a friend or relative a derogatory name, whereas only 12 per cent of 55-64-year-olds will do this.

Where you live is likely to determine how much abuse you get – for example, twice as many Londoners would call a friend or relative a derogatory name, compared with Scots (30 per cent, compared with 15 per cent).

So when people do abuse their friends and relatives, who comes off worst?

Friends receive the brunt – overall, 68 per cent reserved abuse for their friends, but brothers or sisters still total 15 per cent; and partners and parents equal, at 10 per cent each.

Mandy Cassidy, a psychotherapist with LighterLife, 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.”

People can appear to shrug off comments, she added, but inside, they can be devastated. “Often it is only through counselling that the full impact become clear – many of our clients have resorted to avoiding social occasions and decline invitations.

“Even some people who appear totally confident say that they become ‘really good liars’ and concoct a range of excuses for not attending events – which can drive them indoors, to eat as a way of dealing with their hurt and anger, which compounds the problem.

“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. Hon Medical Director of charity Weight Concern, said, “These findings are very concerning. People who have a weight problem need support and encouragement, not ridicule.

“Many already have underlying psychological and self-esteem issues and this type of behaviour can only serve to make matters worse and cause a great deal of distress. Few people want to be very overweight and would love to be able to change. That process needs support, not criticism; it needs incentive, not punishment.”

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