Weight bias: Prejudice and discrimination toward overweight and obese people
Diedrichs, P. C. and Puhl, R. (2016) Weight bias: Prejudice and discrimination toward overweight and obese people. In: Sibley, C. and Barlow, F. K., eds. (2016) The Cambridge Handbook of the Psychology of Prejudice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 392-412. ISBN 9781107098336 Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/30705
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Weight bias refers to prejudice and discrimination towards overweight and obese individuals, and is argued to be one of the last socially acceptable forms of discrimination. Multi-country studies document its widespread prevalence. Children, adults, health professionals, employers, and the media are sources of weight bias. Fifty years of research consistently documents the significant detrimental consequences of weight bias for targets’ psychological and physical health, employment opportunities and income, education, and academic performance. Psychological and sociocultural theories have been posited to explain weight bias, including the role of beliefs about the individual controllability of body weight, and the intersection of social justice issues relating to gender, race, and class. Multi-level strategies have been proposed to address weight bias, spanning psychosocial interventions, re-orienting media and public health campaigns, social policy, and legislation. This chapter provides an overview of the existing evidence for the prevalence, sources, consequences, theories, and intervention approaches for weight bias. It concludes with a set of recommendations to rapidly drive forward research and advocacy efforts that seek to address this pernicious social and public health issue in a strategic and coordinated way.
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