Research - Obesity

Bias, discrimination, and obesity

Puhl, R, and Brownell, KD (2001). Obesity Research; 9(12):788-805.

The researchers concluded that people with obesity have been stigmatized and sometimes discriminated against because of their weight. They noted that it occurred in three life areas: employment, education, and health care. Read abstract here. 

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Implicit and explicit anti-fat bias among a large sample of medical doctors by BMI, race/ethnicity and gender.

Sabin, J. A., Marini, M., & Nosek, B. A. (2012). PLoS ONE, 7(11).

A subsample of general population survey takers were medical doctors who completed the Weight Implicit Association Test. Their results indicated a strong anti-fat bias. Read article here.



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The body politic: the relationship between stigma and obesity-associated disease

Muennig, P (2008.) Bio Med Central Public Health; 8: 128.

In this article, the author suggests that social stigma surrounding obesity results in stress for people who have obesity, and that this stress contributes to the obesity epidemic. Read article here.


A content analysis of weight stigmatization in popular television programming for adolescents

Marla E. Eisenberg, ME., Carlson-McGuire, A., Gollust, SE., Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2014.) International Journal of Eating Disorders, doi: 10.1002/eat.22348.
The portrayal of weight stigmatization on popular television shows—including targeting women of average weight—sends signals to adolescents about the wide acceptability of this behavior and the expected response, which may be harmful. Prevention of weight stigmatization should take a multi-faceted approach and include the media. Future research should explore the impact that weight-related stigma in television content has on viewers. Read abstract here.

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Beliefs, attitudes and phobias among medical and psychology students toward people with obesity

Soto, L., Armendariz-Anguiano, AL., Bacardi-Gascon, M., and Jiminez Cruz, A (2014.) Nutr Hosp.; 1;30:37-41.
Researchers observed phobias and negative attitudes of Mexican medical and psychology students toward people who have obesity. Read abstract here.

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Weight Labeling and Obesity: A Longitudinal Study of Girls Aged 10 to 19 Years

Hunger, J.M., Tomiyama, J. (2014.) JAMA Pediatrics. 168(6):579-580.

The researchers examined whether weight labeling to children (identifying a child as overweight) will result in an obese body mass index (BMI) in adulthood, ten years later. Read first page of article here. 


An ethical framework for the prevention of overweight and obesity: a tool for thinking through a programme’s ethical aspects.

ten Have, M., van der Heide, A., Mackenbach J.P., and de Beaufort, I.D. (2012). European Journal of Public Health, 233(2)299-305.

The authors present a framework to be used for the evaluation of programs preventing obesity, while being aware of ethical issues including stigmatization, blaming the victim and reinforcement of health inequalities. Read abstract here.


Obesity stigma: Important considerations for public health.

Puhl, R. M., & Heuer, C. A. (2010). American Journal of Public Health, 100(6) 1019-1028.

Stigmatization of obese individuals threatens health, generates health disparities, and interferes with effective obesity intervention efforts. Findings highlight weight stigma as both a social justice issue and a priority for public health. Read article here.


The stigma of obesity: a review and update.

Puhl, R. M., & Heuer, C. A. (2009). Obesity, 17(5), 941-964.

The prevalence of weight discrimination in the United States has increased by 66% over the past decade, and is comparable to rates of racial discrimination, leaving overweight and obese persons vulnerable to social injustice, unfair treatment, and impaired quality of life as a result of substantial disadvantages and stigma. Read article here.


Do the psychological effects of stigma linger after obese adolescents transition to normal weight?

Mustillo, S.A., Hendrix, K.L., and Schafer, M.H. (2012). Journal of Health and Social Behavior,53:1.

The mental health ramifications of obesity on adolescents linger after weight loss. Read policy brief here.


Trajectories of body mass and self-concept in Black and White girls: The lingering effects of stigma.

A., Hendrix, K. L., & Schafer, M. H. (2012). Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 53(1), 2-16.

As a stigmatizing condition, obesity may lead to the internalization of devalued labels and threats to self-concept. Modified labeling theory suggests that the effects of stigma may outlive direct manifestations of the discredited characteristic itself. We found that discrepancy was higher and self-esteem lower in formerly obese girls compared to girls always in the normal range and comparable to chronically obese girls. Read article here.

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The ironic effects of weight stigma.

Major, B., Hunger, J. M., Bunyan, D. P., & Miller, C. T. (2014). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 51, 74-80.

America’s war on obesity has intensified stigmatization of overweight and obese individuals. Findings suggest that social messages targeted at combating obesity may have paradoxical and undesired effects. Read article here.


Obesity, stigma and public health planning.

MacLean, L., Edwards, N., Garrard, M., Sims-Jones, N., Clinton, K., & Ashley, L. (2009). Health Promotion International, 24(1), 88-93.

The consequences of stigmatization of obese people is examined, and how stigma manifests in the provision of health services is discussed. Suggestions are given for designing non-stigmatizing obesity prevention public health programs. Implications for practice and policy are also discussed. Read article here.


Stigmatization of overweight patients by nurses.

Creel, E., & Tillman, K. (2011). The Qualitative Report, 16(5), 1330-1351.

This study explores the phenomenon of stigmatization of obese persons by nurses. Perceptions of stigma were manifested in shame, marginalization, and anxiety in seeking health care. Read article here.


Ambivalence and obesity stigma in decisions about weight management: A qualitative study.

Brown, I., & McClimens, A. (2012). Scientific Research 4(12A).

Obesity devalues physical and moral identity, creating challenges for those affected. Obesity stigma has general consequences in many spheres of life for affected individuals, including decision-making about weight management interventions. Read article here.


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