Event Title

Fearing fat: Examining weight stigma’s relationship to eating behavior

Presenter Information

Natasha Dixon

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation/Art Exihibt

College

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Major

Psychology

Location

Event Center A & B

Start Date

5-19-2016 1:00 PM

End Date

5-19-2016 2:30 PM

Abstract

Fear and stigmatization are often used as motivators for individuals to lose weight or eat healthfully. However, this strategy has been shown to be disadvantageous and can lead individuals to gain weight, can reduce behavioral restraint, and can often exert a negative influence on eating. In the present study, we examined the relationship between weightbased stigmatization, fear of fat (FoF), and eating behavior in a diverse undergraduate sample (N=91, 63.3% Latina/o). We tested whether FoF mediated the relationship between weight stigma and selfreported eating behavior. Participants engaged in a laboratory study that involved completing measures assessing perceptions of weight stigma, FoF, eating behavior, and physical health. Results showed that perceptions of weight stigma were associated with increased binge eating (b=.19, p<.01), restrained eating (b=.25, p<.01), and emotional eating (b=.26, p<.01), but not with externalized eating (b=.05, p=.99). Moreover, FoF mediated the relationships between both weight stigma and binge eating (b=.06 CI: .02 to .12; Model: F(1,87)=26.70, p<.01, R2=.38) and weight stigma and restrained eating (b=.15 CI: .05 to .25; Model: F(1,87)=24.12, p<.01, R2=.37). Results suggest that perceptions of weight stigma exert influence on maladaptive eating behaviors through FoF. Previous research has found that weight stigma, fear of fat, and rigid restraint eating contribute to weight gain. The current research builds on this by identifying one mechanism through which this may occur. Many weight loss interventions and anti-obesity campaigns use stigmatizing language to motivate weight loss and increase healthy behaviors, but our findings suggest that such a strategy might be counterproductive.

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May 19th, 1:00 PM May 19th, 2:30 PM

Fearing fat: Examining weight stigma’s relationship to eating behavior

Event Center A & B

Fear and stigmatization are often used as motivators for individuals to lose weight or eat healthfully. However, this strategy has been shown to be disadvantageous and can lead individuals to gain weight, can reduce behavioral restraint, and can often exert a negative influence on eating. In the present study, we examined the relationship between weightbased stigmatization, fear of fat (FoF), and eating behavior in a diverse undergraduate sample (N=91, 63.3% Latina/o). We tested whether FoF mediated the relationship between weight stigma and selfreported eating behavior. Participants engaged in a laboratory study that involved completing measures assessing perceptions of weight stigma, FoF, eating behavior, and physical health. Results showed that perceptions of weight stigma were associated with increased binge eating (b=.19, p<.01), restrained eating (b=.25, p<.01), and emotional eating (b=.26, p<.01), but not with externalized eating (b=.05, p=.99). Moreover, FoF mediated the relationships between both weight stigma and binge eating (b=.06 CI: .02 to .12; Model: F(1,87)=26.70, p<.01, R2=.38) and weight stigma and restrained eating (b=.15 CI: .05 to .25; Model: F(1,87)=24.12, p<.01, R2=.37). Results suggest that perceptions of weight stigma exert influence on maladaptive eating behaviors through FoF. Previous research has found that weight stigma, fear of fat, and rigid restraint eating contribute to weight gain. The current research builds on this by identifying one mechanism through which this may occur. Many weight loss interventions and anti-obesity campaigns use stigmatizing language to motivate weight loss and increase healthy behaviors, but our findings suggest that such a strategy might be counterproductive.