Weight Bias: Nature, Consequences, and Remedies

Weight Bias: Nature, Consequences, and Remedies

Weight Bias: Nature, Consequences, and Remedies

Weight Bias: Nature, Consequences, and Remedies

Synopsis

Discrimination based on body shape and size remains commonplace in today's society. This important volume explores the nature, causes, and consequences of weight bias and presents a range of approaches to combat it. Leading psychologists, health professionals, attorneys, and advocates cover such critical topics as the barriers facing obese adults and children in health care, work, and school settings; how to conceptualize and measure weight-related stigmatization; theories on how stigma develops; the impact on self-esteem and health, quite apart from the physiological effects of obesity; and strategies for reducing prejudice and bringing about systemic change.

Excerpt

The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false
appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by
weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by
prejudice.

—ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER (1851)

In free societies, bias, stigma, prejudice, and discrimination are considered inherently evil, seen as a threat to the health, happiness, and social status of those targeted, but also to a nation's fundamental values of inclusion and equality. The behaviors resulting from prejudice range from minor infractions of civility to genocide.

Prejudice and the discrimination it breeds are passed through generations, socialized through multiple channels, and often occur in people who believe themselves to be fair-minded. In areas such as race and gender bias, there is a rich tradition of research, advocacy, social action, and public policy designed to understand causes and to design methods for prevention. Bias based on race and gender has not been eliminated, but progress has been made. This is less the case with weight bias.

Research and social policy on weight bias and discrimination lag far behind, to the point where negative attitudes based on weight have been labeled the last acceptable form of discrimination (Puhl & Brownell . . .

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