The Parallel Epidemic of Weight Stigma

June 14, 2022 by

In a study performed in the 1950s-, 10- and 11-year-old children were shown six images of other children and asked to rank them by which child they “liked best.” The six children they were shown images of included a “normal” weight child, an “obese” child, a handicapped child, a child with crutches and a cast, a child missing a hand, and a child with a facial deformity.

Across multiple sample groups within this study, the child with obesity ranked last.

Weight stigma is described as the social rejection, devaluation, and discrimination that occurs when an individual does not comply with prevailing social norms of body weight, size, and shape. In the US, people with greater body mass index (BMI) report higher rates of discrimination than do ethnic minorities.

Women are especially stigmatized due to their weight. This bias is present in employment, education, media, and relationships, and especially pervasive in healthcare and fitness settings.

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