What Is Weight Stigma? Consultants Clarify


General stigma, outlined as “a set of unfavourable and unfair beliefs that society or a gaggle of individuals have about one thing,” is all over the place. You might have heard it with reference to psychological well being (e.g., “You’ll be able to’t be unhappy since your life goes so properly proper now”), menstrual well being (e.g., “Durations are disgusting and embarrassing”), and bodily potential (e.g., “Solely aged people want listening to aids”). These examples solely scratch the floor of how far stigma reaches and what it could appear to be.

One other a kind of many, many examples that we don’t discuss sufficient is weight stigma. And contemplating the emotional and bodily ramifications, we have to discuss it extra.

What’s weight stigma?

“Weight stigma, additionally known as sizeism, is unfavourable beliefs, in addition to discrimination towards, folks particularly due to their physique weight,” explains Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist of Brooklyn-based Maya Feller Vitamin and creator of Consuming from Our Roots: 80+ Wholesome Residence-Cooked Favorites from Cultures Across the World. “This stigma is disproportionately directed at individuals who dwell in bigger our bodies.”

Even worse, weight stigma has inherent and horrible roots in racism and different types of oppression. “This assumption can result in discrimination and viewing a person as lazy or unmotivated in the event that they don’t match inside tradition norms based mostly on their physique form and measurement,” says Jessica Barth Nesbitt, RD, LD, CEDRD, a regional vitamin director at Consuming Restoration Heart.

What weight stigma appears like in on a regular basis life

Weight stigma is pervasive. In keeping with a 2021 research within the Worldwide Journal of Weight problems1, 42 % of the over 2,000 folks polled mentioned they’d skilled it.

Weight stigma particularly impacts individuals who additionally face racism, misogyny, and different types of oppression, too. “Black and Brown folks in bigger our bodies expertise a double social burden, and girls and femmes of coloration expertise triple burdens,” Feller says.

She lists some particular examples of what weight stigma can appear to be:

Serena Nangia, an advocate for consuming dysfunction restoration, advertising supervisor for Undertaking HEAL, a nonprofit centered on equitable therapy entry for consuming problems, and a self-identified fats individual, agrees that weight stigma and its results are rampant in well being care, training, and lots of different areas. Nangia, who leads workshops on fatphobia and weight stigma, cites the next analysis as only a few of the numerous methods weight stigma impacts folks in larger our bodies:

And that’s solely a begin.

Alongside these traces, a fast FYI: Crimson flags indicating your physician may maintain weight bias embrace assuming how a lot you eat or train, ignoring a historical past of disordered consuming, and inspiring weight reduction (particularly within the presence of wholesome vitals and lab outcomes).

“The messaging right here is that these areas are usually not for bigger our bodies,” Feller says.

The consequences of weight stigma

Bias towards an individual’s weight—whether or not implicit or specific—has dangerous penalties. “They’re topic to micro and macro aggressions,” Feller says. “It could actually have a unfavourable influence on psychological well being and the supply of high quality care.”

She factors to an American Psychological Affiliation article linking to a number of research that share a few of these results, akin to an elevated danger for substance use7 and suicidal ideation8, decreased bodily exercise and interactions with health-care techniques9, and poorer cognitive efficiency10, to call a couple of.

Nesbitt has discovered the identical—and extra—to be true. “Weight stigma can result in unfavourable impacts on a person’s psychological well being, vanity, relationships, and physique picture,” she says. “It could actually additionally help and reinforce the engagement of dysfunction[ed] consuming behaviors.”

On that observe, Nangia cites a 2018 research within the Journal of Common Inner Drugs11 with comparable findings. “Excessive-weight folks with consuming problems are exponentially extra prone to be inspired to have interaction in consuming dysfunction behaviors—restriction, over-exercise, and so on.—to shed extra pounds than to be screened for an consuming dysfunction by their docs,” she says.

To sum up how weight stigma impacts folks, Nangia suggests remembering “the 4 Is”: ideologically, institutionally, interpersonally, and internally. Weight stigma is about how our society sees and treats skinny folks higher on ranges each large and small.

“Privilege offers permission and reinforcement for particular person members of the dominant group to personally disrespect and mistreat people within the oppressed group,” she says.

Additional, the stereotypes and stigma surrounding fats our bodies are usually not solely hurtful, but additionally pointless, inapplicable, and unfaithful. “Folks typically really feel that ‘well being’ is a sound motive to inform a fats individual that their physique is unhealthy, ugly, or disgusting—all phrases my physique has been known as,” she provides. “Regardless of folks’s dedication to strangers’ well being, the reality is that well being can’t be decided by somebody’s measurement, aka Well being at Each Measurement, and being wholesome isn’t an ethical obligation.”

Nicely+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, latest, sturdy research to again up the data we share. You’ll be able to belief us alongside your wellness journey.

  1. Lee, Ok. M., Starvation, J. M., & Tomiyama, A. J. “Weight stigma and well being behaviors: proof from the Consuming in America Research.” Worldwide Journal of Weight problems, vol. 45, 2021, pp. 1499–1509. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-021-00814-5.


  2. Flint, Stuart W et al. “Weight problems Discrimination within the Recruitment Course of: “You’re Not Employed!”.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 7 647. 3 Could. 2016, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00647
  3. Lee, Hyeain et al. “Influence of Weight problems on Employment and Wages amongst Younger Adults: Observational Research with Panel Knowledge.” Worldwide journal of environmental analysis and public well being vol. 16,1 139. 7 Jan. 2019, doi:10.3390/ijerph16010139
  4. Ginde, Adit A., et al. “The Problem of CT and MRI Imaging of Overweight People Who Current to the Emergency Division: A Nationwide Survey.” Weight problems, vol. 20, no. 2, 2012, pp. 462–470. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2008.410.
  5. Puhl, Rebecca M., and Chelsea A. Heuer. “The Stigma of Weight problems: A Assessment and Replace.” Weight problems, vol. 17, no. 5, 2009, pp. 941–964. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2008.636.
  6. Greenleaf, Christy, Scott B. Martin, and Debbie Rhea. “Preventing Fats: How Do Fats Stereotypes Affect Beliefs About Bodily Schooling?” Weight problems, vol. 17, no. 7, 2009, pp. 1362–1367. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2008.454.
  7. Hatzenbuehler, Mark L., Katherine M. Keyes, and Deborah S. Hasin. “Associations Between Perceived Weight Discrimination and the Prevalence of Psychiatric Issues within the Common Inhabitants.” Weight problems, vol. 17, no. 11, 2009, pp. 2033–2039. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2009.131.
  8. Brochu, P.M. “Weight Stigma as a Danger Issue for Suicidality.” Worldwide Journal of Weight problems, vol. 44, 2020, pp. 1979–1980. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-020-0632-5.
  9. Tomiyama, A. Janet. “Weight Stigma is Traumatic: A Assessment of Proof for the Cyclic Weight problems/Weight-Primarily based Stigma Mannequin.” Urge for food, vol. 82, 1 November 2014, pp. 8–15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.06.108.
  10. Starvation, Jeffrey M., Alison Blodorn, Carol T. Miller, and Brenda Main. “The Psychological and Physiological Results of Interacting with an Anti-Fats Peer.” Physique Picture, vol. 27, December 2018, pp. 148–155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.09.002.
  11. Nagata, Jason M et al. “Prevalence and Correlates of Disordered Consuming Behaviors Amongst Younger Adults with Chubby or Weight problems.” Journal of basic inside medication vol. 33,8 (2018): 1337-1343. doi:10.1007/s11606-018-4465-z

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