Is obesity stigmatizing? Body weight, perceived discrimination, and psychological well-being in the United States.

Department of Sociology, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research, Rutgers University, 30 College Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.
Journal of Health and Social Behavior (Impact Factor: 2.72). 10/2005; 46(3):244-59. DOI: 10.1177/002214650504600303
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We investigate the frequency and psychological correlates of institutional and interpersonal discrimination reported by underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese I, and obese II/III Americans. Analyses use data from the Midlife Development in the United States study, a national survey of more than 3,000 adults ages 25 to 74 in 1995. Compared to normal weight persons, obese II/III persons (body mass index of 35 or higher) are more likely to report institutional and day-to-day interpersonal discrimination. Among obese II/III persons, professional workers are more likely than nonprofessionals to report employment discrimination and interpersonal mistreatment. Obese II/III persons report lower levels of self-acceptance than normal weight persons, yet this relationship is fully mediated by the perception that one has been discriminated against due to body weight or physical appearance. Our findings offer further support for the pervasive stigma of obesity and the negative implications of stigmatized identities for life chances.

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    Sarah E Jackson, Rebecca J Beeken, Jane Wardle
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