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Student Research Guide Spr2024: Health at Every Size and Weight Stigma - Brandy Burr: Home

The Weight of Stigma

Introduction to the Topic

photo of obese women walking, no heads visibleMany people in the world today are considered overweight and/or obese.  Weight stigma, both external and internalized is something that people in all weight ranges experience.  Recent research tells us that experiencing weight stigma is worse for physical and mental health than actually being overweight or obese is.  How can we as a society help to dismantle this last "acceptable" prejudice?  Incorporating weight-inclusive approaches to healthcare is a good starting point. 



Image: Google Images,

Overweight and Obesity Statistics in the United States

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2021, September) Overweight & obesity statistics. National Institute of Health.

This page shows how many Americans are considered overweight and obese in the United States using BMI as a measure.

Keywords for searching the topic

The keywords I used for my searches are below:


  • Health at Every Size
  • Weight Stigma
  • Weight Inclusive
  • Fat Bias
  • Obesity AND Health

Best Databases/Search Engines

These were the best databases for the topic of Obesity, Weight Stigma and Weight Inclusive Approaches:


Francis, H.-M. (2022, March 2). Fear of a fat planet: Obesity, medical racism,me. YouTube.

Hannah-Maria Francis, a medical student, talks about how racism is involved in the 'obesity epidemic"  and her personal experiences as a fat person during the pandemic

Start Your Research Here

Wikipedia contributors. (2024, May 18). Social stigma of obesity. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

This Wikipedia page is a good place to start research on weight stigma.  It gives a definition of weight stigma, shows the prevalence of weight stigma in the United States, lists some theoretical explanations, and discusses how people with excess fat are seen as having many negative traits.  The page refers to weight discrimination in 7 areas of life.  It discusses how experiencing weight stigma has negative physical and mental health outcomes and touches on policy, public health and weight stigma disproportionately affecting BIPOC. Lastly the page talks about responses to weight stigma such as the fat acceptance movement. I chose this source because I was led to it through first research Health at Every Size which then lead to weight stigma.  This source is easy to read and understand and provides a concise guide to weight stigma which they refer to as social stigma of obesity.

Wong-Shing, K. (2023, January 18). Fatphobia is killing us.  What will it take to end it? [Article]. CNET.

This article gives a definition of fatphobia (weight stigma), why fatphobia is dangerous to health, and what is being done to combat fatphobia by practitioners in the health field, scholars and activists. The article discuses how fatphobia drives people’s weight gain and is worse for health than “any BMI.” Weight stigma harms some people more than others such as black women, poor people and super heavy weight people. There is a brief reference to the Association for Size Diversity and Health which founded HAES principles of weight inclusivity and respectful care.  The ASDH is building a provider directory and doing work on size discrimination legislation. I chose this article as it is a quick and easy to understand read. 

Dennett, C. (2020, April 30). Thinking about your weight? What you might be getting wrong about the Health at Every Size approach: Three myths about the movement, which seeks to reduce the stigma surrounding fat. The Washington Post.

This article breaks down three myths surrounding HAES (registered trademark). The first myth is that HAES advocates claim everyone is healthy at every size.  This is not true, rather HAES advocates reject using body size as a measure of health at all.  HAES was born out of heavier weight people not receiving health care comparable to others. This article states health issues most people think of as coming from being overweight can be made worse by the stigma heavier weight people face.  The second myth is that HAES is against losing weight.  The truth is HAES is against prescribing weight loss "as an intervention."  HAES advocates believe and are supported by evidence that prescribing weight loss is harmful and leads to negative health outcomes.  The third myth is that HAES promotes obesity. HAES advocates state there is a wide range of body diversity and every size is deserving of dignity and respect.  I chose this article because I think it's important to separate the myths from the truth and the language of the article is easy to read and understand. 

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