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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces a model describing the mechanisms by which weight stigma can lead to poorer health outcomes among people who are or who perceive themselves to be overweight. It is proposed that enacted weight stigma (discrimination) directly impairs the health of heavier weight individuals by changing the social and material aspects of their lives in ways that are detrimental to health. It is also proposed that perceived weight stigma can lead to social identity threat, which in turn can indirectly impair health by increasing stress and negative emotions, physiological reactivity, calorie intake, and stigma-avoidance behaviors. Finally, it is proposed that weight stigma is bidirectional, in that experiencing weight stigma leads to weight gain or inhibits weight loss through increased eating and other biobehavioral mechanisms, which in turn lead to further stigmatization. Implications for health and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Keywords: stigma, weight stigma, social identity threat, stress, obesity, physical health, anti-fat attitudes, eating, bias, body image

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