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Weight Stigma and Discrimination


Alongside the increasing prevalence of obesity has been a concomitant rise in reports of weight stigma and discrimination. Indeed, empirical evidence demonstrates that weight stigma and discrimination is reported and experienced by people of all backgrounds across the world, and this occurs in different settings and through various mediums. When experienced, weight stigma can lead to a myriad of effects:

Social: discrimination in employment, healthcare, and education; stereotypical media portrayal; stigmatising relationships; social isolation.

Psychological: increased risk of depression, stress and anxiety; body image concerns; eating disorders; lowered self-esteem and self-confidence; reduced quality of life.

Physical: self-harming; exercise behaviours; increased risk of cardio-metabolic risk factors.


Despite rapidly increasing evidence that demonstrates the detrimental effects of weight stigma and discrimination, there has been relatively few efforts to intervene. The aim of research within the theme is to examine the effects of weight stigma, and to develop novel, impactful weight stigma interventions to reduce bias. We aim to achieve this through innovative research with partners from education, workplaces, healthcare, mass media, families, and people across the lifespan.

On June 18-19th June 2018, the 6th International Weight Stigma Conference will be held at Leeds Beckett University. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Policy and Campaigns’, which is a key topic within the weight stigma and discrimination theme, in particular why public health policy should avoid stigmatising obesity.

Plus Icon Current Projects
  1. Exploring and enhancing the National Child Measurement Programme
  2. Using a whole systems approach to reduce weight stigma
  3. Impact of weight stigma on the practitioner-patient relationship
  4. A meta-analysis of weight stigma inventories
  5. Examining the impact of a weight stigma intervention in healthcare professionals
  6. Reducing weight stigma internalisation in weight management service attendees
  7. Internalisation of stigmatising media portrayal of obesity.
  8. Implicit & explicit weight stigma in psychologists.
  9. Evaluation of the Suffolk Weight stigma campaign
  10. Associations between weight and HIV-Aids stigma; a multi-country comparison
  11. Framing of obesity in the Childhood Obesity Plan of Action
  12. Examining young women’s talk around weight, and the tensions between anti-weight stigma discourse and engaging in hetero-normative (feminine) fat talk
  13. Apocalyptic fatness and the Saboteurs and Saviours of the 'obesity'
Plus Icon Staff and Research Student Profiles
Plus Icon Topics
  • Education
  • Workplace
  • Healthcare
  • Mental health
  • Media portrayal
  • Exercise & physical activity
  • Weight stigma interventions
  • Weight management & public health services
  • Policy & campaigns
  • Legislation
  • National Child Measurement Programme
Plus Icon Publications
  1. Flint, S. W., & Lozano, L. (2017). The vital links between obesity and psychopathology: the impact of stigma. Primary Prevention Insights, 7, 1-4.
  2. Flint, S. W., & Reale, S. (2016). Weight stigma in frequent exercisers: overt, demeaning and condescending. Journal of Health Psychology.

  3. Flint, S. W., Čadek, M., Codreanu, S. C., Ivić, V., Zomer, C., & Gomoiu, A. (2016). Obesity discrimination in employment recruitment: 'You're not Hired!' Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 647.

  4. Flint, S. W., Hudson, J., & Lavallee, D. (2016). The Portrayal of Obesity in U.K. National Newspapers. Stigma and Health, 1, 16-28.

  5. Flint, S. W., Hudson, J., & Lavallee, D. (2015). UK adults' implicit and explicit attitudes towards obesity. BMC Obesity, 2, 31.

Plus Icon Media Appearances

Flint, S. W., Nobles, J. (2017). Obesity is about much more than just an unhealthy lifestyle. Metro.

Flint, S. W. (September 2017). Conflating “skinny shaming” and “fat shaming” of women masks the often forgotten issue of thin privilege. Quartz.

Flint, S. W. (September, 2017). Time to stop weight stigma in UK National Newspapers. Leeds Beckett University.

Flint, S. W. (August, 2017). Demoted or dismissed because of your weight? The reality of the size ceiling. The Guardian.

Flint, S. W.  (July, 2017). ‘It’s time for us to stop judging people for their body weight’. East Anglia Daily Times.

Flint, S. W. (July, 2017). Tackling stigma of weighty issue. Yorkshire Evening Post.

Flint, S. W. (July, 2017). ‘It’s time for us to stop judging people for their body weight’. Ipswich Star.

Flint, S. W. (May 2016). Life Changers: Should we consume more fat? BBC Radio Sheffield [BBC Radio Sheffield's T. Foster interviewed Dr Flint about the National Obesity Forum claims that consuming more fat can reduce obesity].

Flint, S. W. (May 2016). Research study shows overweight people are discriminated against when applying for work! BBC Radio Sheffield [BBC Radio Sheffield's H. Pressman interviewed Dr Flint about his research study examining obesity discrimination in workplace recruitment].

Flint, S. W. (May 2016). Study finds obese people less likely to be employed. ITV News.

Flint, S. W. (Apr, 2016). Overweight get office protection. The Sunday Times.

Flint, S. W. (Apr, 2016). Make it illegal to call someone fatty at work, judge urges. The Daily Telegraph.

Flint, S. W. (Apr, 2016). Only yourself to blame: how stigma is making us fatter. The New Statesman. Dr Flint interviewed about his research examining weight stigma.

Flint, S. W. (Jan, 2016). Do we need anti-fat classes? BBC Radio Sheffield [BBC Radio Sheffield's H. Pressman interviewed Dr Flint about his research into obesity stigma].

Flint, S. W. (Jan, 2016). Call for classes to fight obesity prejudice. The Times.

Flint, S.W. (2015). Walking across the fire: Should weight discrimination be illegal? BBC Radio Sheffield [BBC Radio Sheffield's R. Robinson interviewed Dr Flint about the legality of obesity discrimination].

 External Collaborations