Stigmatizing Attitudes Differ Across Mental Health Disorders: A Comparison of Stigma Across Eating Disorders, Obesity, and Major Depressive Disorder


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Abstract

The aim of the current article was to compare stigmatizing attitudes toward eating disorders (EDs), including anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge eating disorder (BED), with stigma toward another weight-related condition (obesity) and a non–weight-related mental disorder (major depressive disorder [MDD]). Participants (N = 447) read five vignettes describing a woman with AN, BN, BED, obesity, or MDD and responded to questionnaires examining stigmatizing attitudes. The targets with EDs were blamed more for their condition than the targets with MDD, whereas persons with obesity were held more responsible for their condition than any other target. On the other hand, the target with MDD was perceived as more impaired than any other target. Lack of self-discipline was attributed more to the development of BED and obesity than to any other condition. Stigmatizing attitudes vary across mental health disorders, and future research should aim to specifically target stigmatizing beliefs to reduce and prevent discrimination toward mental health disorders and obesity.

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