Research Topic

Obesity stigma in healthcare: impacts on policy, practice, and patients

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Global obesity prevalence continues to rise, with a concomitant increase in anti-fat attitudes and obesity stigmatization. Counter-intuitively, research has evidenced obesity stigmatization in a range of settings critical for the engagement and treatment of obese individuals, such as exercise and healthcare ...

Global obesity prevalence continues to rise, with a concomitant increase in anti-fat attitudes and obesity stigmatization. Counter-intuitively, research has evidenced obesity stigmatization in a range of settings critical for the engagement and treatment of obese individuals, such as exercise and healthcare facilities, schools, and workplaces.

The prevalence and robustness of observed anti-fat attitudes is concerning given their association with anti-fat behavior. For instance, it has been reported that healthcare professionals and students in training stigmatize obese patients, and in some cases, withhold appropriate advice or treatment. In addition, healthcare providers use of stigmatizing terminology is experienced by patients as unhelpful and in some instances may lead to an avoidance of healthcare settings. More generally, experiencing weight stigma is associated with compromised psychosocial wellbeing: depressed mood, anxiety, social isolation, lower self-esteem and poor psychological adjustment.

Despite evidence of the prevalence of anti-fat attitudes, current knowledge of the influence/impact of obesity stigma within healthcare remains underdeveloped. In a dynamic context whereby the legal and social standing of obese individuals is the subject of contemporary debate, an evidence-based review of understanding and practice is timely. Thus, we encourage submissions that seek to understand or address issues associated with obesity stigma and healthcare. Sample topics may include patient engagement, professional behavior, service access and adherence, health outcomes, and interventions or training effects. We particularly welcome multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary research that focuses on policy, professional practice, or patient experiences.

The aim of this Research Topic is to gather the most recent research findings from experts in the field, to evidence the impact of obesity stigma in service providers. To achieve this aim, this Research Topic will feature research that advances current knowledge on the impact of obesity stigma in healthcare settings. Submissions of empirical, theoretical, methodological, opinion pieces and commentaries are welcome.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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