Stigma & Obesity

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


Implicit and explicit anti-fat bias among a large sample of medical doctors by BMI, race/ethnicity and gender. Sabin, J., Marini, M. and Nosek, B. (2012). PLoS ONE, 7(11).

This study examined the attitudes of weight among medical doctors. Read 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.