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Am J Prev Med. 2017 Jun 1. pii: S0749-3797(17)30224-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.04.003. [Epub ahead of print]

Intersectionality: An Understudied Framework for Addressing Weight Stigma.

Author information

1
Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, University of Connecticut, Hartford, Connecticut. Electronic address: mary.himmelstein@uconn.edu.
2
Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, University of Connecticut, Hartford, Connecticut; Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.
3
Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Obesity is an ongoing public health concern in the U.S. Weight stigma is linked to a number of obesogenic health outcomes, which complicate obesity treatment and prevention. Despite higher rates of obesity in female and minority populations, little research has examined weight stigma in non-white women and men. This study investigated intersectionality in weight stigma and health-related coping responses to stigmatizing experiences across racial groups.

METHODS:

In 2015, a total of 2,378 adults completed questionnaires about weight stigma, weight bias internalization, and coping strategies. Analyses were conducted in 2016.

RESULTS:

No differences in weight stigma emerged as a function of race or gender, but women reported higher weight bias internalization (B=0.19, p=0.004). Further, black men and women reported less weight bias internalization than white men and women (B=-0.43, p=0.009). Compared with white women, black women were less likely to cope with stigma using disordered eating (B=-0.57, p=0.001), whereas Hispanic women were more likely to cope with stigma using disordered eating (B=0.39, p=0.020). Black men were more likely than white men to cope with stigma via eating (B=-0.49, p=0.017).

CONCLUSIONS:

Findings highlight that weight stigma is equally present across racial groups, but that groups internalize and cope with stigma in different ways, which exacerbate health risks. Increased research and policy attention should address stigma as an obstacle in prevention and treatment for obesity to reduce weight-based inequities in underserved populations.

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