224425 Weight stigma among college students

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 11:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Sabrina J. Robinson, PhD, MPH, MS, FNP-BC , College of Nursing, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Background Recent attention has been drawn to weight bias in the United States. With obesity reaching epidemic proportions with two out of three adults and one in two children overweight or obese. Weight bias affects millions and is rising steadily. Obesity and weight stigma has been linked to low self-esteem, depressive symptoms and body dissatisfaction.

Purpose Weight stigma is more consequential in adolescents due to the mental and physical changes that occur. Clear and consistent evidence has shown that overweight people face discrimination in education, employment and healthcare. This study examined the association between weight stigma and psychosocial outcomes.

Methods An exploratory correlational study using an internet survey was conducted on 994 students across a university campus to better understand the association between weight status, weight stigma, body image and depressive symptoms. In addition, racial and gender trends of weight stigma were explored. Data were collected and analyzed using SAS.

Results There was an association between weight stigma, body image and depressive symptoms, p<0.01. Correlations ranged from r=.14-.42 for body image and r=.35-.43 for depressive symptoms. Of the students, stigmatized 21% were discriminated for being overweight, 29% were teased and 8% were bullied due to their weight. Additional analyses explored demographic effects and self-esteem on weight stigma and psychosocial outcomes. Conclusions This study found a relationship between weight stigma, depressive symptoms and body image among students. Overall overweight students experienced more stigma. These results will help guide obesity prevention programs promoting healthy lifestyles, physical activity and positive self-esteem.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the relationship between weight stigma, body image and depressive symptoms in college students. Identify racial and gender trends of weight stigma.

Keywords: College Students, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conduct obesity research and read the literature extensively on the presentation 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.