Negative attitudes towards people who are obese are widespread and weight discrimination is frequently seen as socially acceptable. People with obesity commonly report being treated disrespectfully in shops and even medical settings. Studies have linked experiences of weight discrimination with poor psychological wellbeing. This stigma can become internalised which further undermines wellbeing. Weight discrimination has negative implications for physical health and has been associated with weight-promoting behaviours and weight gain.
Weight is not a fixed characteristic and can change over time. Attempts to lose weight are common in community settings. At higher weight ranges, bariatric surgery is a successful treatment for obesity. It is unclear whether weight loss influences the health and wellbeing of those who have experienced weight discrimination.
Aim: To use primary data from bariatric service settings and secondary data from community cohort studies to assess whether weight loss can mitigate the impact of weight discrimination on health and psychosocial wellbeing.
Y1: Secondary data analysis using epidemiological cohorts
Statistical analysis of data from community dwelling adults (n=~17,000) to explore i)trajectories of weight following weight discrimination ii)whether weight loss positively influences psychosocial wellbeing in people who previously reported weight discrimination.
Data sources: 1) US Health and Retirement Study 2) English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. These studies have harmonised weight discrimination data. Objectively assessed weight and measures of health and psychosocial wellbeing are collected longitudinally.
Y2: Primary data collection pre-post bariatric surgery
Longitudinal survey of ~150 clinically obese individuals to explore i)whether weight discrimination influences psychological adjustment after bariatric surgery ii)the relationship between weight discrimination and weight change post-surgery.
Interviews with ~30 individuals undergoing bariatric surgery who have and have not experienced weight discrimination to explore differences in internalised stigma, health-related beliefs and psychosocial wellbeing.
Techniques/skills: Data collection in the NHS, statistical analysis of large datasets, interviewing.