Weight-based stigmatization, psychological distress, & binge eating behavior among obese treatment-seeking adults

Eat Behav. 2008 Apr;9(2):203-9. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2007.09.006. Epub 2007 Sep 20.


Objective: To evaluate the associations between weight-based stigmatization, psychological distress, and binge eating behavior in a treatment-seeking obese sample.

Methods: Ninety-three obese adults completed three questionnaires: 1) Stigmatizing Situations Inventory, 2) Brief Symptoms Inventory, and 3) Binge Eating Questionnaire. Correlational analyses were used to evaluate the association between stigmatizing experiences, psychological distress and binge eating behavior.

Results: Stigmatizing experiences predicted both binge eating behavior (R(2)=.20, p<.001) and overall psychological distress (R(2)=.18, p<.001). A substantial amount of the variance in binge eating predicted by weight-based stigmatization was due to the effect of psychological distress. Specifically, of the 20% of the variance in binge eating accounted for by stigmatizing experiences, between 7% and 34% (p<.01) was due to the effects of various indicators of psychological distress.

Conclusions: These data suggest that weight-based stigmatization predicts binge eating behavior and that psychological distress associated with stigmatizing experiences may be an important mediating factor.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Personality Inventory
  • Prejudice*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*