Effects of weight stigma on exercise motivation and behavior: a preliminary investigation among college-aged females

J Health Psychol. 2008 Jan;13(1):131-8. doi: 10.1177/1359105307084318.


This study examined the relation between weight stigma, exercise motivation and exercise behavior. One hundred female undergraduates (BMIs [kg/m(2)] 17-38) completed measures of experiences with weight stigma, body dissatisfaction, self-esteem and exercise motivation, and reported on their exercise behavior. Stigma experiences were positively correlated with BMI and body dissatisfaction. Importantly, stigma experiences were related to increased desire to avoid exercise, even when controlling for BMI and body dissatisfaction. Exercise avoidance was in turn related to less frequent strenuous and moderate exercise. These findings suggest that weight stigma (through its impact on avoidance motivation) could potentially decrease physical activity levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • New England
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Stereotyping*
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities