Social stigma of obesity

The social stigma of obesity has caused difficulties and disadvantages for overweight and obese people. Weight stigma is similar and has been broadly defined as bias or discriminatory behaviors targeted at individuals because of their weight.[1][2] Such social stigmas can span one's entire life, as long as excess weight is present, starting from a young age and lasting into adulthood.[3] Several studies from across the world (e.g., United States, University of Marburg, University of Leipzig) indicate overweight and obese individuals experience higher levels of stigma relative to their thinner counterparts. In addition, they marry less often, experience fewer educational and career opportunities, and on average earn a lesser income than normal weight individuals.[3] Although public support regarding disability services, civil rights and anti-workplace discrimination laws for obese individuals have gained support across the years,[3] overweight and obese individuals still experience discrimination, which may have detrimental implications to physiological and psychological health. These issues are compounded with the significant negative physiological effects associated with obesity.[4]

Anti-fat bias refers to the prejudicial assumption of personality characteristics based on an assessment of a person as being overweight or obese. It is also known as "fat shaming". Fat activists allege anti-fat bias can be found in many facets of society,[5] and blame media for the pervasiveness of this phenomenon.[6][7]


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