Author(s): Giel KE, Zipfel S, Alizadeh M, Schffeler N, Zahn C,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Weight-related stigmatization is a public health problem. It impairs the psychological well-being of obese individuals and hinders them from adopting weight-loss behaviors. We conducted an experimental study to investigate weight stigmatization in work settings using a sample of experienced human resource (HR) professionals from a real-life employment setting. METHODS: In a cross-sectional, computer-based experimental study, a volunteer sample of 127 HR professionals (age: 41.1 ± 10.9 yrs., 56\% female), who regularly make career decisions about other people, evaluated individuals shown in standardized photographs regarding work-related prestige and achievements. The photographed individuals differed with respect to gender, ethnicity, and Body Mass Index (BMI). RESULTS: Participants underestimated the occupational prestige of obese individuals and overestimated it for normal-weight individuals. Obese people were more often disqualified from being hired and less often nominated for a supervisory position, while non-ethnic normal-weight individuals were favored. Stigmatization was most pronounced in obese females. CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest that HR professionals are prone to pronounced weight stigmatization, especially in women. This highlights the need for interventions targeting this stigmatization as well as stigma-management strategies for obese individuals. Weight stigmatization and its consequences needs to be a topic that is more strongly addressed in clinical obesity care.
This article was published in BMC Public Health
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy