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The Implications of Weight Bias Internalisation

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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02576

Weight Bias Internalization and Weight-Related Quality of Life in a Treatment-Seeking Sample

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, United States

Research has shown a negative relationship between weight bias internalization (WBI) and general measures of health-related quality of life (QOL), such as the Short Form–36. Less is known about the impact of WBI on weight-specific domains of QOL. This study examined the relationship between WBI and weight-related QOL, as measured by the Impact of Weight on Quality of Life (IWQOL-Lite) scale. Participants were 178 adults with obesity (71.3% black, 87.6% female, mean body mass index [BMI]=40.9±5.9 kg/m2) enrolled in a weight loss trial testing the effects of lorcaserin on weight loss maintenance. At baseline, participants completed the Weight Bias Internalization Scale (WBIS), the IWQOL-Lite and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) to assess symptoms of depression. Total scores for the IWQOL-Lite and its five subscales (Physical Function, Self-Esteem, Sexual Life, Public Distress and Work) were calculated. The WBIS was negatively correlated with the IWQOL-Lite total and subscales scores (r values=-0.28 to -0.76, p values<0.001). Linear regression analyses showed that WBIS scores were associated with the IWQOL-Lite total score and all subscales above and beyond the effects of demographic variables, BMI, and depressive symptoms (beta values=-0.17 to -0.70, p values<0.03). The relationship between WBIS and the IWQOL-Lite scales did not differ by gender or race. WBI was associated with mental and physical aspects of weight-related QOL in a predominantly black and female treatment-seeking sample of patients with obesity. Prioritizing the development of interventions to reduce WBI may be important for improving weight-related QOL.

Keywords: Depression, Obesity, weight-related quality of life, weight, Weight Bias Internalization

Received: 29 Aug 2018; Accepted: 30 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Stuart W. Flint, Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Angela Meadows, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
Mary S. Himmelstein, University of Connecticut, United States
Sarah Nutter, University of Calgary, Canada  

Copyright: © 2018 Walsh, Wadden, Tronieri, Chao and Pearl. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Rebecca L. Pearl, Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 19104, Pennsylvania, United States, rpearl@pennmedicine.upenn.edu