Obesity Stigmatization as the Status Quo: Structural Considerations and Prevalence Among Young Adults in the U.S.
Sara A. Moss, student co-author.
OBJECTIVE: Although obesity stigmatization contributes to significant health, economic, and quality-of-life challenges for U.S. adults, the prevalence and nature of stigmatizing attitudes requires an update and clarification. The present study sought to examine the prevalence and major dimensions of negative attitudes toward obesity through assessment of young U.S. adults' responses to the Attitudes Toward Obese Persons Scale.
METHOD: Participants were women (n=578) and men (n=233) who completed self-report questionnaires assessing obesity stigmatization and eating disorder features.
RESULTS: Results indicate that at least one stigmatizing attitude was endorsed by 92.5% of respondents, with an average endorsement rate of 32.8% across items. Eating disorder features, body size, and gender were not related to one's likelihood of endorsing negative attitudes toward obesity. Distinct clusters of negative attitudes were identified involving beliefs that 'obese people suffer' and 'obese people are inferior.'
DISCUSSION: Data suggest that large proportions of young U.S. adults harbor negative attitudes toward obese persons and these attitudes are pervasive across individuals with different characteristics. Although such negative attitudes have traditionally been conceptualized as relatively unidimensional, results suggest that future research would benefit from deconstructing negative attitudes into those related to pitying the obese and those related to perceiving the obese with harsh judgment.
Ambwani, Suman, Katherine M. Thomas, Christopher J. Hopwood, Sara A. Moss, and Carlos M. Grilo. "Obesity Stigmatization as the Status Quo: Structural Considerations and Prevalence Among Young Adults in the U.S." Eating Behaviors 15, no. 3 (2014): 366-370. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.04.005