Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me fat

Purdue University researchers have found that people, especially men, who feel any kind of discrimination, are more likely to become obese.

“The study found that males who persistently experienced high levels of discrimination during a nine-year period were more likely to see their waist circumference increase by an inch compared to those who did not report discrimination,” said Haslyn E.R. Hunte, an assistant professor of health and kinesiology.

“Females who reported similar experiences also saw their waistlines grow by more than half an inch.

This shows how discrimination hurts people physically, and it’s a reminder how people’s unfair treatment of others can be very powerful.

Hunte is planning to investigate this further by studying biomarkers, such as cortisol, which is a stress-induced hormone, in relationship to effects of discrimination.

And as I mentioned in the following  posts, high levels of cortisol have been shown to lead to body-fat deposits around the belly.

Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised if future research discovered that high levels of cortisol and feelings of discrimination are also related to alcoholism, drug use and all the other coping mechanisms that people use when times are tough.


According to Dr. Hunte:

“People who feel unfairly treated should be aware of this connection between the stress related to their perception and consider coping strategies like exercise or other healthy behaviors as a coping mechanism for such stress.

More importantly, as a society we must become more aware of how we treat people and that treating others unfairly matters beyond hurt feelings.”