Graduation Year

2016

Degree

M.S.

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Physical Education and Exercise Science

Major Professor

Marcus Kilpatrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Candi Ashley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christy Greenleaf, Ph.D.

Keywords

anti-fat attitudes, obesity, stigma, weight bias

Abstract

Americans hold negative and judgmental attitudes towards obese and overweight individuals and these anti-fat attitudes and weight stigma have become a damaging form of discrimination. The internalization of weight bias and anti-fat attitudes contributes to negative health outcomes including: feelings of devalue, self-hate, anxiety, depression, body dissatisfaction and eating disturbances. The purpose of this study was to investigate weight bias internalization in individuals who perceive themselves as overweight as well as to examine differences in anti-fat attitudes among normal and overweight individuals. A sample of 202 male and females completed an online survey that assessed anti-fat attitudes via the Anti-Fat Attitudes Scale (AFAS). Individuals classified as overweight also completed an assessment of bias via the Weight Bias Internalization Scale (WBIS). A one-way analysis of variance indicated no significant difference on the AFAS between individuals categorized as normal and overweight (p = 0.10). Follow-up analyses based on gender indicated a significant difference for females (p =0.004) but no difference for males (p = 0.93). Correlation analysis of BMI and WBIS scores among individuals categorized as overweight yielded a weak and nonsignificant correlation coefficient (p = 0.06) for the entire sample and separate analyses of males and females. Contrary to the study hypothesis, current findings indicated those who perceived themselves as overweight or obese, regardless of their BMI, internalized the weight bias stigma similarly, thus not supporting this study’s hypothesis. Evidence from this study suggests bias and anti-fat attitudes not only come from those who are underweight or normal weight, but that overweight and obese individuals have the same negative opinions, stereotypes and prejudice against their peers.

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