Weight stigma as a psychosocial contributor to obesity.

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Weight stigma is a key aspect of the lived experience of individuals with obesity, and adversely affects health. This article provides an overview of recent evidence examining links between experiences of weight stigma and weight-related behaviors and health (e.g., maladaptive eating, physical activity, stress, obesity, weight loss), including health consequences for individuals with heightened vulnerability to weight stigma (e.g., youth and people seeking bariatric surgery) and implications for clinicians working with individuals who have obesity. This literature points to weight stigma as a psychosocial contributor to obesogenic behaviors, yet the role of weight stigma in weight loss among treatment-seeking individuals has received little attention. Research priorities are identified, including the need for future studies to (a) determine the potentially predictive value of specific characteristics of weight-stigmatizing experiences for weight loss (such as the time period, interpersonal sources, and coping responses for stigma experiences), (b) identify mechanisms through which weight stigma may undermine or facilitate weight-related treatment outcomes, and (c) test strategies that can be implemented in weight management programs to reduce the negative impact of weight stigma on health behaviors. Broadly, more attention should be directed to weight stigma in the obesity field as a relevant psychosocial factor in obesity-focused prevention and treatment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

AuthorPuhl, Rebecca M.; Himmelstein, Mary S.; Pearl, Rebecca L.
JournalThe American psychologist
Volume75
Year2020

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