Special Issue "Weight Stigma: Experiences, Consequences, Causes and Remedies"

A special issue of Obesities (ISSN 2673-4168).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2022) | Viewed by 5320

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Janet D Latner
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Hawaii, Manoa, HI, USA
Interests: weight stigma; eating disorders; body image
Prof. Dr. Kerry O'Brien
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Behavioural Sciences Research Laboratory, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia
Interests: stigma; discrimination and health; obesity stigma; alcohol and gambling marketing and harms; body image; psychological and social aspects of endometriosis; public health; addiction
Dr. Angela Meadows
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Western University, London, ON, Canada
Interests: weight stigma; critical weight studies; public health; policy and law

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The rise in public health concern and debate around the body weight classifications of overweight and obesity has been accompanied by important psychosocial consequences—in particular, a concomitant rise in weight stigma. Weight stigma can be defined as prejudice and discrimination due to weight or body size. It includes experiences of being stigmatised by others, internalised weight (self) stigma, and anticipated or expectation of stigma—all of which have been linked to negative health outcomes and potentially life-limiting disparities of experience. There is currently little support or legal protection for those encountering weight stigma, despite the damaging health and social consequences.

This Special Issue invites original research articles and systematic reviews that examine the psychosocial and health consequences of weight stigma. This includes the potential impact on mental and physical health, health intentions and behaviours, body image, eating behaviour, behavioural avoidance, social exclusion, and inequality. Work examining weight stigma in specific settings, such as health care, physical activity, employment and education, is particularly welcomed. 

Prof. Dr. Janet D Latner
Prof. Dr. Kerry O'Brien
Dr. Angela Meadows
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Obesities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • weight stigma
  • weight bias
  • prejudice
  • discrimination
  • public health
  • eating behaviour
  • mental health
  • health care
  • employment
  • education
  • body image
  • sport and exercise

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
Weight-Biased Language across 30 Years of Australian News Reporting on Obesity: Associations with Public Health Policy
Obesities 2022, 2(1), 103-114; https://doi.org/10.3390/obesities2010010 - 01 Mar 2022
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Abstract
(1) Background: This study tracked the reporting of obesity in the Australian news media over three decades and how changing representations over time were linked to obesity-related public health policy developments. (2) Methods: Machine learning and computational language analysis techniques (word embedding, dichotomous [...] Read more.
(1) Background: This study tracked the reporting of obesity in the Australian news media over three decades and how changing representations over time were linked to obesity-related public health policy developments. (2) Methods: Machine learning and computational language analysis techniques (word embedding, dichotomous bias mapping) were used to identify language biases associated with obesity in 157,237 relevant articles drawn from the Australian Dow Jones digital database of print news media articles from 1990 to 2019. (3) Results: Obesity-related terms were stigmatised on four key dimensions (gender, health, socioeconomic status, stereotypes), with language biased towards femininity and lower socioeconomic status in particular. Biases remained relatively steady from 2005 to 2019, despite recent policy initiatives directly seeking to address obesity stigma. To some degree, for each of the four dimensions, cosine values moved toward 0 over time (i.e., no association with one dimension poll or the other), but remained around 0.20. There was a strong relationship between news media and public health policy discourse over the 30-year study period. (4) Conclusions: With increasing recognition of the health consequences of weight stigma, policymakers and the media must work together to ensure public weight management narratives avoid discourse that may stigmatise heavier individuals, particularly women, and/or reinforce negative obesity stereotypes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weight Stigma: Experiences, Consequences, Causes and Remedies)
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Article
Weight-Normative versus Weight-Inclusive Narratives in Weight-Related Public Health Campaigns: Effects on Anti-Fat Attitudes, Stigma, Motivation, and Self-Efficacy
Obesities 2022, 2(1), 76-93; https://doi.org/10.3390/obesities2010008 - 21 Feb 2022
Viewed by 793
Abstract
Research has shown that weight-related public health campaigns can inadvertently stigmatise individuals with obesity. We compared the effects of weight-normative (personal responsibility and public health crisis) versus weight-inclusive (Health at Every Size [HAES] and fat acceptance) campaign narratives on anti-fat attitudes and reactions [...] Read more.
Research has shown that weight-related public health campaigns can inadvertently stigmatise individuals with obesity. We compared the effects of weight-normative (personal responsibility and public health crisis) versus weight-inclusive (Health at Every Size [HAES] and fat acceptance) campaign narratives on anti-fat attitudes and reactions to campaigns in two studies. In study 1, participants (n = 283) from a range of Body Mass Index (BMI) categories viewed one of four mock campaigns before rating their anti-fat-attitudes (dislike, fear of fat, willpower, social distance), and reactions to the campaign (motivation, stigma). In study 2, participants (n = 175) in overweight or obese BMI categories viewed one of four mock campaigns before rating their reactions to the campaign (motivation, stigma, self-efficacy). Study 1 results showed that weight-normative campaigns were perceived as significantly more stigmatising than weight-inclusive ones. However, weight-inclusive campaigns did not decrease anti-fat attitudes or increase motivation for health behaviour change in this sample. Similarly, study 2 results showed that the personal responsibility campaign was rated as significantly more stigmatising than other campaigns among women with overweight or obesity. Fat acceptance was rated as the least stigmatising campaign in this sample, but weight-inclusive narratives did not increase motivation or self-efficacy for health behaviour change. Future research should focus on developing campaign narratives that are non-stigmatising, motivating, and efficacious by addressing health behavior benefits irrespective of sex or weight. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weight Stigma: Experiences, Consequences, Causes and Remedies)
Article
The Relationship of Internalized Weight Bias to Weight Change in Treatment-Seeking Overweight Adults
Obesities 2022, 2(1), 21-34; https://doi.org/10.3390/obesities2010003 - 19 Jan 2022
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Abstract
The present study examined data from a randomized controlled trial exploring whether behavioral weight loss treatment was associated with changes in internalized weight bias. The relationship between internalized weight bias and psychological functioning was also assessed. Participants were 106 men and women with [...] Read more.
The present study examined data from a randomized controlled trial exploring whether behavioral weight loss treatment was associated with changes in internalized weight bias. The relationship between internalized weight bias and psychological functioning was also assessed. Participants were 106 men and women with overweight or obesity enrolled in a treatment outcome study using the Lifestyle Balance Program. Participants completed measures of internalized weight bias, anti-fat attitudes, self-esteem, body image concern, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress. Variables were assessed at baseline, post-treatment, and six-month follow-up. Weight bias internalization significantly decreased over the course of treatment. Baseline and follow-up internalized weight bias scores predicted change in body weight. Participants reporting the lowest levels of internalized weight bias at baseline lost nearly twice as much weight as participants reporting the highest levels of internalized weight bias. Significant associations were found between internalized weight bias, body image concern, and self-esteem. Findings indicate a relationship between internalized weight bias and weight change during behavioral weight loss treatment, highlighting the importance of assessing baseline levels of internalized weight bias in weight loss treatment studies. Higher internalized weight bias predicted poorer weight loss outcomes, indicating a need for tailored treatment approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weight Stigma: Experiences, Consequences, Causes and Remedies)
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Brief Report
Adverse Childhood Experiences Associated with Greater Internalization of Weight Stigma in Women with Excess Weight
Obesities 2021, 1(1), 49-57; https://doi.org/10.3390/Obesities1010005 - 03 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1599
Abstract
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) may be an early life factor associated with adult weight stigma via biological (e.g., stress response), cognitive (e.g., self-criticism/deprecation), and/or emotional (e.g., shame) mechanisms. This pilot study investigated relationships between ACEs and internalized and experienced weight stigma in adult [...] Read more.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) may be an early life factor associated with adult weight stigma via biological (e.g., stress response), cognitive (e.g., self-criticism/deprecation), and/or emotional (e.g., shame) mechanisms. This pilot study investigated relationships between ACEs and internalized and experienced weight stigma in adult women with overweight/obesity and explored differential relationships between weight stigma and ACE subtypes (i.e., abuse, neglect, household dysfunction). Adult women (68% white, Mage = 33 ± 10 years, MBMI = 33.7 ± 7.2 kg/m2) completed measures of ACEs (ACE Questionnaire), internalized weight stigma (IWS; Weight Bias Internalization Scale—Modified; WBIS—M), and lifetime experiences of weight stigma (yes/no). Data were analyzed with linear and logistic regression (n = 46), adjusting for age, race, and body mass index (BMI). Linear regressions revealed a positive association between ACE and WBIS—M scores (β = 0.40, p = 0.006), which was driven by Abuse-type ACEs (β = 0.48, p = 0.009). Relationships between WBIS—M scores and Neglect- and Household-Dysfunction-type ACEs did not reach significance (β = 0.20, p = 0.173; β = −0.16, p = 0.273). Though descriptive statistics revealed greater rates of experienced weight stigma endorsement by those with high-3+ ACEs (81%) vs. medium-1–2 ACEs (67%) or low/no-0 ACEs (60%), ACE scores were not significantly associated with experienced weight stigma in logistic regression (Wald = 1.36, p = 0.244, OR = 1.324, 95%, CI = 0.825–2.125). ACEs may be an early life factor that increase the risk for internalizing weight stigma in adulthood. Larger studies should confirm this relationship and follow-up on descriptive findings suggesting a potential association between ACEs and experienced weight stigma. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weight Stigma: Experiences, Consequences, Causes and Remedies)
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