Obesity Stigma and its Psychological Implications- Update 1- Compiling, Compiling, and Compiling some more

On Monday, June 18th, I began my first of four weeks’ research on obesity stigma and its relationship to psychological issues in the obese. As my first week draws to a close, I think it is as logical a time as any to write my first blog post.

As outlined in my abstract, my goal is to write a literature review. My proposed process for writing this review can be broken down into three basic stages: Compiling, organizing/writing, and revising. The compiling process has taken up my first week, and I am now ready to move on to outlining my paper.

The compiling process involves browsing databases and skimming articles in search of potentially useful sources. Once I find a source, I add the link, author, title, date, and highlights to my long list of sources. So far, the process has gone relatively smoothly, save for a few (mercifully brief) bouts of technical difficulties. It took a while to get into the rhythm of working again, but as the hours turned into days, I developed more of a sense of direction for my research. At the beginning of the week, I didn’t know exactly what sources I would find or what sources I would need, but by looking at the available scholarship, I have slowly developed a picture of my review and its major points and focuses, which has helped me focus my search to specific things that I need.

So far, my findings are mostly what I expected. There is a lot of scholarship detailing the prevalence of obesity stigma in American and global society. Obesity stigma, unlike many other forms of stigma, is prevalent among the target group (Carels, et al., 2012; Lydecker, O’Brien & Grilo, 2018), which has bad implications for the self-esteem, body image, and general psychological state of those affected. Several sources found that portrayals of obesity as genetic or psychological in cause, as opposed to behavioral, reduced external and internal obesity stigma (Eisenberg, Street, Persky 2017; Khan, Tarrant, Weston, Shah & Farrow, 2017). Reducing obesity stigma is important because obesity stigma is shown to be associated with negative outcomes, such as discrimination in many areas of life, including hiring practices (Agerström & Rooth, 2011; Grant & Mizzi 2014), healthcare (Miller et al., 2013; Pearl, Argueso & Wadden, 2017) and the workplace (Ruggs, Hebl, Williams, 2015; K. Sliter, M. Sliter, Withrow & Jex, 2012). In addition, I have found numerous studies detailing strong links between obesity stigma (particularly internalized obesity stigma) and psychological issues including depression (Hilbert, Braehler, Haeuser & Zenger, 2014; Koball & Carels, 2011), anxiety (Phelan, et al., 2015; Schvey, et al., 2017b), maladaptive coping behaviors (Schvey, et al. 2017a), and eating disorders (Palmeira, Pinto-Gouveia, Cunha & Carvalho, 2017). Experience with obesity stigma is also associated with poorer overall health and worse dietary adherence.

One area that has given me a lot of trouble is finding information about the relationships between environmental and personal factors and development of obesity stigma. When I wrote the first draft of this blog post, I thought that there was a gap in the research in this area. However, I eventually managed to find studies linking right wing authoritarianism (Ekehammar, Akrami, Gylje & Zakrisson, 2004; Magallares, 2014), social dominance orientation (Ekehammar, Akrami, Gylje & Zakrisson, 2004; Magallares, 2014), parental influence (Hansson & Rasmussen, 2008), and more to obesity stigma. However, I still have not been able to find any studies about the influence of genetic factors on development of obesity stigma.

Now, I am prepared and excited to begin writing!



Agerström, J., & Dan-Olof, R. (2012). The role of automatic obesity stereotypes in real hiring discrimination. Human Resource Management International Digest,20(1). doi:10.1108/hrmid.2012.04420aaa.006

Carels, R. A., Burmeister, J., Oehlhof, M. W., Hinman, N., Leroy, M., Bannon, E., . . .

Ashrafloun, L. (2012). Internalized weight bias: Ratings of the self, normal weight, and obese individuals and psychological maladjustment. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 36(1), 86-94. doi:10.1007/s10865-012-9402-8

Eisenberg, M. H., Street, R. L., & Persky, S. (2016). “It runs in my family …”: The association

of perceived family history with body dissatisfaction and weight bias internalization among overweight women. Women & Health,57(4), 478-493. doi:10.1080/03630242.2016.1170095

Ekehammar, B., Akrami, N., Gylje, M., & Zakrisson, I. (2004). What matters most to prejudice: Big Five personality, Social Dominance Orientation, or Right-Wing Authoritarianism? European Journal of Personality,18(6), 463-482. doi:10.1002/per.526

Grant, S., & Mizzi, T. (2014). Body Weight Bias in Hiring Decisions: Identifying Explanatory Mechanisms. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal,42(3), 353-370. doi:10.2224/sbp.2014.42.3.353

Hansson, L. M., & Rasmussen, F. (2010). Predictors of 10-year-olds obesity stereotypes: A population-based study. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity,5(1), 25-33. doi:10.3109/17477160902957141

Hilbert, A., Braehler, E., Haeuser, W., & Zenger, M. (2013). Weight bias internalization, core self-evaluation, and health in overweight and obese persons. Obesity,22(1), 79-85. doi:10.1002/oby.20561

Khan, S. S., Tarrant, M., Weston, D., Shah, P., & Farrow, C. (2017). Can Raising Awareness about the Psychological Causes of Obesity Reduce Obesity Stigma? Health Communication, 33(5), 585-592. doi:10.1080/10410236.2017.1283566

Koball, A. M., & Carels, R. A. (2011). Coping responses as mediators in the relationship between perceived weight stigma and depression. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity,16(1), 17-23. doi:10.1007/bf03327516

Lydecker, J. A., O’Brien, E., & Grilo, C. M. (2018). Parents have both implicit and explicit biases against children with obesity. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. doi:10.1007/s10865-018-9929-4

Magallares, A. (2014). Right Wing Autoritharism, Social Dominance Orientation, Controllability of the Weight and their relationship with antifat attitudes. Universitas Psychologica,13(2). doi:10.11144/javeriana.upsy13-2.rwas

Miller, D. P., Spangler, J. G., Vitolins, M. Z., Davis, S. W., Ip, E. H., Marion, G. S., & Crandall, S. J. (2013). Are Medical Students Aware of Their Anti-obesity Bias? Academic Medicine,88(7), 978-982. doi:10.1097/acm.0b013e318294f817

Palmeira, L., Pinto-Gouveia, J., Cunha, M., & Carvalho, S. (2017). Finding the link between internalized weight-stigma and binge eating behaviors in Portuguese adult women with overweight and obesity: The mediator role of self-criticism and self-reassurance. Eating Behaviors,26, 50-54. doi:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2017.01.006

Pearl, R. L., Argueso, D., & Wadden, T. A. (2017). Effects of medical trainees’ weight-loss history on perceptions of patients with obesity. Medical Education,51(8), 802-811. doi:10.1111/medu.13275

Phelan, S. M., Burgess, D. J., Puhl, R., Dyrbye, L. N., Dovidio, J. F., Yeazel, M., . . . Ryn, M. V. (2015). The Adverse Effect of Weight Stigma on the Well-Being of Medical Students with Overweight or Obesity: Findings from a National Survey. Journal of General Internal Medicine,30(9), 1251-1258. doi:10.1007/s11606-015-3266-x

Ruggs, E. N., Hebl, M. R., & Williams, A. (2015). Weight isn’t selling: The insidious effects of weight stigmatization in retail settings. Journal of Applied Psychology,100(5), 1483-1496. doi:10.1037/apl0000017

Schvey, N. A., Barmine, M., Bates, D., Oldham, K., Bakalar, J. L., Spieker, E., . . . Sbrocco, T. (2017a). Weight stigma among active duty U.S. military personnel with overweight and obesity. Stigma and Health,2(4), 281-291. doi:10.1037/sah0000057

Schvey, N. A., Sbrocco, T., Bakalar, J. L., Ress, R., Barmine, M., Gorlick, J., . . . Tanofsky-Kraff, M. (2017b). The experience of weight stigma among gym members with overweight and obesity. Stigma and Health,2(4), 292-306. doi:10.1037/sah0000062

Sliter, K. A., Sliter, M. T., Withrow, S. A., & Jex, S. M. (2012). Employee adiposity and incivility: Establishing a link and identifying demographic moderators and negative consequences. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology,17(4), 409-424. doi:10.1037/a0029862

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