American Samoans Can't Stand Fatsos; Negative Attitude Toward Chubsters Going Global, ASU Study Finds

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Just steer clear of American Samoa.
Hatin' on fatsos isn't just for Westerners anymore -- a study conducted by researchers at Arizona State University shows that negative attitudes toward the overweight is going global.

According to a cross-cultural study of attitudes toward obesity -- to be published in the April issue of Current Anthropology -- the overall attitude toward the obese is becoming increasingly negative, even in places where at one time being bulky was considered attractive.

The study surveyed people in Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, the United States, and Great Britain. It also took a look at people in American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Tanzania -- cultures that have traditionally been pro-fatso.

The surveyors asked respondents if they agreed with statements like "fat people are lazy," and even fat-friendly comments like "a big woman is a beautiful woman."

According to ASU researchers, the results suggest a rapid "'globalization of fat stigma' in which overweight people are increasingly viewed as ugly, undesirable, lazy, or lacking in self control."

"Previously, a wide range of ethnographic studies have shown that many human societies preferred larger, plumper bodies," says Dr. Alexandra Brewis, a biological anthropologist and one of the study's authors. "Plump bodies represented success, generosity, fertility, wealth, and beauty."

What proved shocking to researchers is that the most negative fat stigma scores weren't in the U.S. or Great Britain, but rather in places like Mexico, Paraguay, and "most surprisingly" in American Samoa.

"When I was doing research in the Samoas in the 1990s, we found people starting to take on thinner body ideals, but they didn't yet have discrediting ideas about large bodies," Brewis says. "But that appears to be changing very quickly."

So thin is in -- even in American Samoa.
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Danny Bell
Danny Bell

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Leialoha732000
Leialoha732000

It is an on going thing in American Samoa. Samoans have always seen fat people like that. I am a FATSO but carry myself with pride. The thing that irritates me about it is that other FATSOs tend to say those same things about other FATSOs. Here, if you are fat and married it seems "ok" but it is not. Im not perfect am healthy and active but could never say things like that about other FAT people...I was always taught to look at myself first before saying something negative about someone else...Samoans lack that ability...I know i live amongst them.

Ryan
Ryan

I think this is an incredible step and i hope everyone do not take offense but acknowledge that this is a great thing happening. I understand that there are varying attitudes in all of these regions, especially island territories. Carribean region, Mexico, and of course in the Pacific - American Samoa all live in their rooted cultures and although they share that denominator in different degrees - the attitudes are very different.

I am not 'fully' surprised with the response reflected by American Samoa. The government has worked hard in implementing health awareness and the success of those programs, no different in any US community, really lies in the decisions made by the recipients of those programs. I mentality of being fit and thin has always been the way of thinking for American Samoans -- a lot of this is the influence of military Samoans and its proud athletes making good in their sports and careers. At the same time there is a 'macho' image of many males that being Samoan is about being 'huge, massive,...' etc..

Today, I hear from relatives that diabetes has affected almost a member of each household and it leads to so many other health issues. I know many who recently died and a lot has to do with all kinds of health problems that could've been controlled if they were not obese. More and more, these problems seen by American Samoans in their own communities probably helped formed that thinking and belief that 'big' is not good. On the other brighter side of the issue, so many American Samoans have made a lot of progress in leading their own families and communities towards healthier practices and lifestyles. There is progress made but unfortunately its happening a lot slower than it should be.

I believe the drive to escalate good progress is the effective medim American Samoa always use -- culture and religion. If only there is a good strategy to convince the religious leaders (and majority of them i know are obese -- no offense) and the matais/chiefs of families to be proactive in health programs and practices, i think a lot of health problems can be either prevented or controlled. I do hope and expect continue progress by American Samoa.

Lifeflame
Lifeflame

Hmmmm did this come out a few days early?

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