You've eaten right, worked out hard and struggled through the plateaus and occasional backslides. Despite all of that, you've finally succeeded and reached your goal weight, and now you're ready to tell the world about it. Don't be so fast, though.

A recent study conducted in conjunction by the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Monash University and the University of Manchester and published in the journal Obesity discovered that even after dropping a large amount of weight, a significant amount of fat prejudice still existed toward women who were once obese.

The Study

Young men and women were asked to analyze a number of photos of women and give their opinion on several attributes, including their perception of her attractiveness. They were also asked to discuss their attitudes toward the obese in general. A vignette about the woman in the image accompanied each photo. Some women were described as maintaining their current weight, whether slender or obese, while others were described as having lost about 70 pounds.

The Results

The researchers found that the participants had a shift in their attitudes toward the obese women after reading about the women who had lost the weight. The results that surprised researchers the most, however, were that the women who were portrayed as having lost the weight, despite their current slender stature, were also the subject of negative opinions. They were considered less attractive, even when compared to other women of similar height and weight who were identified as having always been thin.

The Troubling Truth

The most troubling finding from the study was that when the participants learned that body weight could be easily controlled, the negativity toward the obese increased. Dr. Kerry O'Brien, one of the co-authors of the study, pointed out that despite the constant influx of information from the media and the medical community about weight being controllable by the individual, the truth is that often weight status is not under a person's control.

While many see obesity as a simple matter of making the right decisions and having an appropriate amount of willpower, the truth is that a number of factors affect weight gain and loss, many of which are completely out of a person's ability to alter. Some of these factors include the person’s genetics and overall physiology. Additionally, Dr. O'Brien blames "the food environment" as having a strong impact on a person's ability to control his or her weight.

Obesity Stigma

It's impossible to deny there is a clear stigma against the obese. Unfortunately, the findings from this study indicate that this stigma may not disappear, even once the weight has. Even those counted among the medically obese feel this stigma, struggle and blame themselves for their weight and their difficulty in losing it. Dr. Janet Latner, the study lead, pointed out that obesity stigma is a societal concern and until the problem of obesity stigma is addressed at the societal level, it's only going to continue.

The study was published in Obesity.

While close friends and family are likely to congratulate you on your weight loss, you may wish to keep your former weight to yourself. Find more science-based weight loss advice at