223628 Weight discrimination and women

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ashley Graboski-Bauer, MPH, CHES , Emergency Response Team/Public Health Preparedness, Texas Department of State Health Services, El Paso, TX
Nour Abdo, MPH, BVMS, CHES , Department of Health Science, MSC 3HLS, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
Melissa Wilson, BA , AIG Travel Guard, Stevens Point, WI
Stephen Hittner, BA , Family Natural Foods, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Ruja Abdo, MVetSci, MPH, BVMS , Veterinary Sciences Laboratory, Jordan Ministry of Agriculture, Raleigh, NC
Introduction: Weight discrimination (WD) is a well-documented phenomenon; as the prevalence of overweight and obesity (OW/O) increases, so does the stigma attached to this condition. WD may lead to psychological trauma, decreased employment opportunities, lower wages and other disparities. Because other gender-based disparities in social and economic determinants of health are known to exist, it is important to determine how WD affects women compared to men. The present study investigated the relationship between WD and gender.

Methods: Existing data was collected from secondary sources and analyzed using a variety of methods. Types and consequences of WD as well as legal precedents were analyzed in terms of gender.

Results: Women are disproportionately affected by many manifestations of WD, including negative stereotypes about their personalities and capabilities as employees. For women, WD leads to disparities in wages, employment, and social opportunities affecting financial stability. Race may be a protective factor against WD in some instances. There have been several major cases involving WD, the majority of which have been brought by female plaintiffs; however, few have been successful and current U.S. law still offers little legal protection against WD. Conclusions: Because women are more susceptible to WD than men, WD is a social justice issue for women. Women face economic and social disparities affecting health regardless of weight; WD can both contribute to and compound these issues. Therefore, in order to create effect programs, public health interventions targeting health disparities in women and/or OW/O should consider WD during the program planning process.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Define weight discrimination. 2. Describe how weight discrimination can be both a consequence and determinant of health. 3. Describe gender disparities in weight discrimination and in its effects.

Keywords: Obesity, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the majority of research for this abstract. I have an extensive academic and professional background in public health and social sciences that prepares me to present on this topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.