Weight bias, negative attitudes towards others based on their weight status, is a pervasive matter in society. Oftentimes, it is communicated through subtle and over forms in various settings including work, school, and healthcare agencies. Weight bias negatively affects quality of life by impacting socialization, physical health, and psychological wellness. Socially, it can lead to rejection by peers and poor academic outcomes. In terms of physical health, perceiving weight bias may contribute to binge-eating habits and limited physical activity. It can also greatly affect mental health, as it contributes to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and poor body image.
Contributing to negative attitudes about others’ weight status is the perceptions about what causes weight gain. Believing that individuals gain weight as a result of personal control, emotional concerns, and behavioral choices tends to perpetuate negative bias. It is important to understand that various factors contribute to weight status.
Weight bias can have a negative impact on overall health. It is important to address it in order to prevent its associated adverse effects. Individuals who encounter weight bias may consider advocacy as an intervention. Other helpful strategies include providing education as it can help alter negative attitudes, communicating to individuals when their behaviors are inappropriate, and developing a support system to discuss these concerns.
If you or someone you know is in need of mental health support, there are many options available, including professional counseling. Please call us at (215) 487-1330 or email us at Greenridge@intercommunityaction.org for more information about our counseling services.
Author: Katherine Homa, MA