Even Obesity Specialists Are Biased Against the Obese

No sur­pris­es here for me:
Even health pro­fes­sion­als who treat obe­si­ty are biased against over­weight patients

From Yale University:
New Haven, Conn. — Obe­si­ty spe­cial­ists from physi­cians and researchers to phar­ma­col­o­gists and psy­chol­o­gists, showed sig­nif­i­cant anti-fat bias accord­ing to a recent Yale study. 

“The stig­ma of obe­si­ty is so strong that even those most knowl­edge­able about the con­di­tion infer that obese peo­ple have blame­wor­thy behav­ioral char­ac­ter­is­tics that con­tribute to their prob­lem, i.e. being lazy,” said Mar­lene Schwartz, asso­ciate research sci­en­tist in the Depar­ment of Psy­chol­o­gy and lead researcher of the study pub­lished this month in the jour­nal, Obe­si­ty Research. “Fur­ther­more, these bias­es extend to core char­ac­ter­is­tics of intel­li­gence and per­son­al worth.” 

“On both implic­it and explic­it mea­sures, health pro­fes­sion­als asso­ci­at­ed the stereo­types lazy, stu­pid and worth­less with obese peo­ple,” she said. There also was a sig­nif­i­cant rela­tion­ship between age and bias; younger peo­ple show greater bias. 

She said the find­ings were par­tic­u­lar­ly note­wor­thy since the sam­ple was com­prised of pro­fes­sion­als who treat and study obe­si­ty, a group that under­stands that obe­si­ty results from genet­ic and envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors and is not sim­ply a func­tion of indi­vid­ual behavior. 

The study extend­ed ear­li­er research by iden­ti­fy­ing pre­dic­tors of bias lev­el. Health pro­fes­sion­als who work direct­ly with obese patients showed less bias than those who did not. In addi­tion, feel­ings of under­stand­ing the expe­ri­ence of obe­si­ty and hav­ing obese friends were asso­ci­at­ed with low­er lev­els of bias. 

The study includ­ed health pro­fes­sion­als attend­ing the open­ing ses­sion of an inter­na­tion­al obe­si­ty con­fer­ence in Que­bec City. Three hun­dred eighty nine clin­i­cians and researchers were giv­en the Implic­it Asso­ci­a­tions Test (IAT) and a self-report ques­tion­naire assess­ing explic­it atti­tudes, per­son­al expe­ri­ences with obe­si­ty, and demo­graph­ic characteristics. 

The IAT is a timed mea­sure of auto­mat­ic asso­ci­a­tions. It was used in this study to assess over­all implic­it weight bias, asso­ci­at­ing “obese peo­ple” with “bad” and “thin peo­ple” with “good,” as well as three ranges of stereo­types: lazy-moti­vat­ed, smart-stu­pid, and valu­able worth­less. The ques­tion­naire assessed explic­it bias on the same cri­te­ria, along with per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ences with obesity.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
Posts created 4259

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top