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On Hold with Atchka! and Dr. Rebecca Puhl

June 13, 2012

After back-to-back sessions with the King and Queen of Dickweedistan, I immediately published this interview as a way to cleanse the palate of the horrible taste they left in my mouth. I think this did the trick.

Dr. Rebecca Puhl enjoys a mixed reputation around Fat Acceptance. Fat activists love to cite her work on the effects of fat stigma, shame and discrimination, but hate to give her credit because Dr. Puhl still cites weight loss as a critical message for fat people.

Puhl is Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University. She’s also a Senior Research Scientist, and her fingerprints are all over some of the most enlightening and exhaustive research on the subject.

While I disagree with Dr. Puhl about her opinions on weight loss, I find her expertise on the physical and psychological toll of stigma to be of the utmost importance to our understanding of the complex health issues surrounding obesity.

For instance, in this interview, Dr. Puhl explains how long-standing research on other forms of stigma (particularly racial stigma) have demonstrable effects on metabolic health. This is a woefully under-reported fact which deserves greater attention, and Dr. Puhl is on the front lines of that information war. She was even included in a “bonus” segment of Weight of the Nation, which devotes 19 minutes to the subject. I highly recommend watching it.

Dr. Puhl’s work has had a tremendous impact on our understanding of how our culture contributes to, and exacerbates, the health issues surrounding obesity, and I cannot overstate how fortunate I feel to have been able to discuss this subject with her.

I hope you enjoy our conversation as well.

You can read the original introduction here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    June 13, 2012 1:07 pm

    This is one of the reasons I don’t understand why they keep recommending weight loss as a solution. If stigma has such a huge impact on health, why recommend solutions (weight loss diets) that don’t work and aren’t blamed for their failure? Because when the WLD doesn’t work, it’s not the diet that is blamed, it’s the person on the WLD who is blamed for failing, which adds to the stigma they bear, which exacerbates any health problems they may have and are trying to remedy by losing weight. It’s a vicious circle that won’t be broken as long as weight and health are seen as the same thing.

    • June 13, 2012 10:32 pm

      Exactly. Promoting an impossible cure is inherently stigmatizing.


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