Implicit anti-fat bias in physical educators: Physical attributes, ideology and socialization

Department of Psychology, University of Otago, Taieri, Otago, New Zealand
International Journal of Obesity (Impact Factor: 5). 03/2007; 31(2):308-14. DOI: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803398
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To investigate the implicit and explicit prejudice of physical education (PE) students before, and following extensive professional training, and to examine the relationship of anti-fat prejudice to relevant psychosocial predictors.
Implicit and explicit anti-fat prejudice of year one and three PE students (cross-sectional sample) were assessed and compared to a similarly matched (age, body mass index (BMI), education) sample of psychology students.
Three hundred and forty-four university students, 180 PE students, 164 psychology students (67% female, mean age 20 years, BMI: mean 23.18 kg/m(2)).
Measures of implicit and explicit anti-fat prejudice were administered to PE and psychology students in either their second week, or near completion of their third year, of university study. Physical identity, body esteem and social dominance orientation (SDO) were assessed in order to establish their relationship with anti-fat bias.
PE students displayed higher levels of implicit anti-fat bias than psychology students, and other health professionals. Additionally, year three PE students displayed higher levels of implicit anti-fat attitudes than year one PE students. The higher implicit anti-fat biases exhibited by year three PE students were associated with SDO, and lower body esteem.
Physical educators, and particularly those more socialized in the PE environment, display strong negative prejudice toward obese individuals that is greater than that displayed by other groups. These prejudices appear to be supported by an over-investment in physical attributes, and ideological beliefs.

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Available from: John Hunter, Aug 04, 2014
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    • "While it is possible that these are idiosyncratic characteristics of the sample, it is also possible that the results might have been different if we had used other measurement instruments. On the one hand, several studies have found that prejudice toward obese people is revealed by implicit measures and not explicit measures of attitudes toward obesity (O'Brien et al., 2007, Rukavina, Li, Shen, & Sun, 2010). On the other hand, measures of body dissatisfaction based on silhouettes are designed to assess dissatisfaction generated by discrepancy with the ideal of thinness (Gardner & Brown, 2010), and it is probable that they are not the most adequate in a sample, that of the PE teachers, characterized by having below normal weight at their age. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective This paper studied the effects of the Physical Education (PE) class context on adolescent body avoidance behaviors. Design Cross-sectional study. Methods A sample of adolescents (n = 1792) completed questionnaires measuring body size dissatisfaction, body image avoidance behaviors and physical activity levels. Their PE teachers (n = 81) completed questionnaires of body size dissatisfaction, attitudes toward obesity and teaching characteristics, including questions regarding teaching style, experience and training. Participants’ height and weight were measured. Contextual effects -PE teachers’ and peers’ influence-were analyzed using multilevel methods. Results Multilevel regression showed that the stronger the desire for thinness of PE classmates the more frequent the body avoidance behaviors of the adolescents. We also found an inverse relationship of the teachers’ teaching experience and academic training with students’ avoidance behaviors. Conclusions The PE teacher and PE classmates exercise a degree of influence on some of the behavioral manifestations of body image problems, even when the effects of the individual characteristics of the adolescents are controlled. However, the influence of this educational context has limited predictive capacity and should be studied together with other social contexts –friends and family-in future research.
    Psychology of Sport and Exercise 01/2014; 16. DOI:10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.09.010 · 1.90 Impact Factor
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    • "Forty-three percent of principalsagree that most people are uncomfortable when they associate with obese people (11). In addition, teachers have lower expectations for overweight students compared with thinner students across a range of ability areas (12). Obese students are less likely to be accepted for admission into college, despite having comparable academic performance (13). "
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    ABSTRACT: Although the effects of obesity on children's physical health are well documented, the social consequences of obesity are less well described and may not be addressed in intervention programs. Weight bias may take several forms. It may result in teasing and discrimination and may affect employment and educational opportunities. Health care providers may limit care of overweight or obese children. The media promote weight bias in multiple ways. Some parents are biased against their obese children. In an effort to avoid weight bias, new efforts to reduce obesity must be evaluated to determine whether these efforts do, in fact, add to the problem. It is important to understand that the weight bias that obese youth face is just as serious as the physical consequences of excessive weight on the welfare of the child.
    Preventing chronic disease 09/2011; 8(5):A94. · 2.12 Impact Factor
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    • "to r = .52, [6] [18] [58] [59]). This highlights that implicit anti-fat attitudes and anti-fat stereotypes are related but not identical constructs, and this distinction warrants more attention in future research, particularly in relation to the predictive power of each of these constructs for discriminatory behaviours. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although overweight is undesirable from both public and personal health perspectives, the focus of this paper is on exploring the nature of fat prejudice within a social cognition framework. Fat prejudice refers to the tendency to form judgments about people on the basis of excessive body weight. Body size has been described as one of the few personal attributes considered an acceptable target of prejudice, despite the fact that targets of fat prejudice experience significant psychological distress. Fat prejudice is likely to become an increasingly common psychosocial problem in light of the obesity epidemic that is currently affecting many countries. The current paper reviews findings from nineteen experimental studies of implicit anti-fat attitudes; these studies have used either the implicit association test or the affective priming task. The empirical data highlight that implicit anti-fat attitudes are widely held and relatively universal. Robust implicit anti-fat bias is evident among many groups including university students, members of the general public, health professionals, and among those who are themselves overweight or obese. The current data suggest that, similar to findings with other attitudinal objects, the relationship between implicit and explicit measures of anti-fat attitudes is complex. The possibility of changing implicit anti-fat attitudes, either by modifying the underlying associative structures or by altering the pattern of activation, is discussed. Avenues for future research are offered, keeping in mind the challenge of formulating appropriate public health messages whilst also challenging weight bias, and promoting acceptance of diversity in body size.
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