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A health expert from Sheffield Hallam University has called for more action to be taken to stop obese people being bullied.

Dr Stuart Flint from the University's Centre for Sport and Exercise Science has identified a need for 'anti-fat prejudice' classes to be held across the country in an attempt to educate people about the causes of obesity.

A study, led by Dr Flint together with scientists from Leeds Beckett University and the University of Stirling, found that negative perceptions of fat people are prevalent across the country and people who were reported as having anti-fat prejudices were more likely to mistreat people because of their weight.

The researchers also discovered that stigmatising obese people led to depression, body image consciousness and lower self-esteem among those who were overweight.

More than 2,300 people from around the UK took part in the study, which found that men, young people and frequent exercisers were more likely to have negative attitudes towards fat people.

"What people often don't realise is that there are causes of obesity that are out of an individual's control," said Dr Flint.

"We need to work with certain groups of people such as keep-fit enthusiasts and young men to introduce anti-fat attitude interventions which will help to educate people about some of the uncontrollable causes of obesity."

For press information: Sarah Duce in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 4025 or email