Experienced and internalized weight stigma among Spanish adolescents

Dimitra Tatiana Anastasiadou , Maria Salome Tarrega Larrea, Albert Fornieles Deu, Albert Moncada-Ribera, Anna Bach-Faig, David Sánchez-Carracedo*

*Autor correspondiente de este trabajo

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Background and objective Weight stigma has negative consequences for both physiological and psychological health. Studies on weight stigma in adolescence, particularly from general populations, are scarce in the Mediterranean area. The main aim of this study is to describe the prevalence of experienced and internalized weight stigma among a representative sample of adolescents from the Spanish city of Terrassa, and to determine its association with sociodemographic variables and weight status. Methods Drawing on data from the initial assessment of a longitudinally funded project on weight stigma in
adolescents, a cross-sectional survey-based study was conducted using random multistage cluster sampling. Weight stigma experiences, their frequency and sources, and weight bias internalization with the Modified Weight Bias
Internalization Scale (WBISM) were assessed in a sample of 1016 adolescents. Adjusted odds ratios (AOR) between sociodemographic variables, weight status and having experienced weight stigma, and having reported high scores
of WBISM (WBISM≥4) were estimated by multiple logistic regression models.
Results The prevalence of weight-related stigma experiences was 43.2% in the sample (81.8 in adolescents with obesity) and the prevalence of high levels of weight bias internalization was 19.4% (50.7 in adolescents with obesity).
Other kids and school were the most prevalent sources of weight stigma, with society and family being other significant sources of stigma reported by girls. A significantly higher risk of having experienced weight stigma was observed in girls (AOR=2.6) and in older adolescents (AOR=1.9). Compared to normal weight adolescents, all weight statuses showed higher risk, being 3.4 times higher in adolescents with underweight and reaching 11.4 times higher risk in those with obesity. Regarding high levels of weight bias internalization, girls had a risk 6.6 times higher than boys. Once again, a “J-shaped” pattern was observed, with a higher risk at the lowest and highest weight statuses. The risk was 6.3 times higher in adolescents with underweight, and 13.1 times higher in adolescents with obesity compared to those with normal weight. Conclusions Considering the high prevalence of experienced and internalized weight stigma among adolescents in Spain, especially in adolescents with obesity and girls, it seems important to implement preventive strategies in different settings and address all sources of stigma.
Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo1743
Número de páginas14
PublicaciónBMC Public Health
EstadoPublicada - 29 jun 2024


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