Sources of Weight Discrimination and Health

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Abstract

Individuals who perceive weight discrimination tend to be less healthy. The correlates of weight discrimination, however, may vary by source of the discrimination (e.g., from a health care provider, stranger, family member, etc.). The present research used a large national sample (N = 4,990) to examine the prevalence and demographic predictors of sources of weight discrimination and whether subjective health and depressive symptoms associated with discrimination varied by source. Approximately 13% of the respondents reported experiencing discrimination based on their body weight. Of these participants, the prevalence across sources ranged from 4% from educators to 52% from strangers. Women and younger participants were more likely to experience bias from their families; participants with higher body mass indexes (BMIs) were more likely to experience discrimination from a service industry professional or a stranger. Participants had lower subjective health when the source of weight discrimination came from either a stranger or a family member, whereas depressive symptoms were higher across all sources of discrimination except for from a service professional or a stranger. These results support previous research that indicates weight discrimination is common and comes from many sources and further suggests that the health correlates may differ depending on who is the source of the unfair treatment.

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