Weight Stigma and Discrimination

The social, psychological and physical effects of weight stigma. 
Students throwing a ball through a hoop
The exterior of the Rose Bowl main entrance, showing the triangles around the bowl

Research theme Focus

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

Research areas

  • 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

Ongoing Research

  • Exploring and enhancing the National Child Measurement Programme
  • Using a whole systems approach to reduce weight stigma
  • Impact of weight stigma on the practitioner-patient relationship
  • A meta-analysis of weight stigma inventories
  • Examining the impact of a weight stigma intervention in healthcare professionals
  • Reducing weight stigma internalisation in weight management service attendees
  • Internalisation of stigmatising media portrayal of obesity.
  • Implicit & explicit weight stigma in psychologists.
  • Evaluation of the Suffolk Weight stigma campaign
  • Associations between weight and HIV-Aids stigma; a multi-country comparison
  • Framing of obesity in the Childhood Obesity Plan of Action
  • Examining young women’s talk around weight, and the tensions between anti-weight stigma discourse and engaging in hetero-normative (feminine) fat talk
  • Apocalyptic fatness and the Saboteurs and Saviours of the 'obesity'