COUNTY NEWS: One in three people in south east bullied in street over looks and weight

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A third of adults living in the south east have received negative comments about their weight or appearance in the street, reveals a survey released this week.

The shocking results come from the survey “Fat Shaming Britain 2016”, for diet company LighterLife - which reveals the scale of the epidemic faced by those with weight issues, and the damaging impact this is having on their lives.

File photo dated 15/07/2008 of an overweight woman as being overweight contributes more to the most common form of breast cancer than alcohol or smoking, a study suggests.

File photo dated 15/07/2008 of an overweight woman as being overweight contributes more to the most common form of breast cancer than alcohol or smoking, a study suggests.

The poll, which looked at 1,000 adults, revealed that more than a third of people (39 per cent) lack confidence due to their weight or appearance, which is made worse by the negative comments they have endured from strangers - face to face, via social media, by text and in the street.

And the accusers are closer to home than you might think. An alarming 78 per cent of people abused by strangers had also received derogatory

comments, face-to-face, from someone they knew.

Weight was overwhelmingly the main subject of comments – good or bad - confirmed by two thirds (67 per cent). And almost one in three (31 per cent) felt the comments they had received were “maybe” or “definitely” street harassment, with a further 18 per cent disclosing they had also been attacked via social media.

So how does weight affect people’s lives?

Almost a quarter of people – 24 per cent – of south east respondents had felt embarrassed or self-conscious about their appearance when walking down the street. A worrying 19 per cent felt their weight or appearance had impacted their health and more than a third (39 per cent) admitted their weight or appearance has affected their confidence, the highest percentage of all UK regions surveyed.

Bar Hewlett, LighterLife founder, said, “It’s a downward spiral – criticising the obese simply batters their confidence and means they are even more likely to seek comfort and escape in food, thus compounding the problem.

“Nationally, a quarter of women and almost a fifth of men admitted they rewarded themselves with food and drink.

“Just as alcoholics don’t drink to excess because they are thirsty, so the obese don’t overeat because they are hungry.

“What many people don’t understand is that most food issues have very little to do with hunger. For many of us, eating is a way of coping with what life throws at us; bullying only throws more, which will make things worse.

“Thankfully even the NHS is waking up to the value of talking therapies to address obesity, just as they have become the front-line treatment for alcohol addiction.

“Only in this way can dieters resolve their underlying relationship with food – so when they lose the weight, they can keep it off for good.”

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