Is Obesity Stigmatizing? Body Weight, Perceived Discrimination, 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


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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    • "Due to limited resources, we could not do a member check with our study population to validate our findings. Finally, since obesity is a stigmatized con- dition [83], this may have impacted participants' willingness to disclose various aspects of their experiences. "

    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016
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    • "Within the current medical-theoretical framework, causal pathways between obesity and mental disorders are likely to be bidirectional. On one hand, being a target of weight-based discrimination and stigmatization might lead to depressive symptoms with feelings of worthlessness, social anxiety, and isolation, especially in extremely obese patients [19] [20]. On the other hand, depression and anxiety disorders might contribute to weight gain by interfering with healthy eating behaviors and might complicate weight loss [21]. "
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    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of obesity
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    • "Furthermore nificant (0.080) at conventional levels. These results are also consistent with the hypothesis of lower expectations about jobs because overweight and obese people with poor health can have even a weaker position in the labour markets, suffering from a greater job discrimination and lower self-acceptance as compared to, for example, obese individuals (Carr and Friedman, 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigates the interaction between obesity and disability and its impact on the levels of job satisfaction reported by older workers (aged 50-64) in ten European countries (Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Spain). Using longitudinal data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe for the years 2004, 2007 and 2011, we estimate a job satisfaction equation which includes a set of explanatory variables measuring worker’s obesity and disability status (non-disabled, non-limited disabled, and limited disabled). The results show that, after controlling for other variables, obese workers are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs as compared to those workers with normal weight (0.066 points). In addition, being limited disabled or having poor health contribute to reducing (by 0.082 and 0.172 points, respectively) this positive effect of being obese on job satisfaction. However, we do not find any differential effect of obesity on job satisfaction by disability status, except for those underweight individuals who are not limited in their daily activities. Overall, these findings support the hypothesis of lower expectations about jobs for obese workers, especially if they also have poor health.
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