Perceived Discrimination and Stigmatisation Against Severely Obese Women: Age and Weight Loss Make a Difference

Obes Facts. 2010 Feb;3(1):7-14. doi: 10.1159/000273206. Epub 2010 Feb 11.


Aims: Patients' perceptions about weight-related stigma and discrimination were assessed in 2 groups of patients, obese and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB).

Methods: Seven focus group sessions were held including a total of 32 women, 8 obese (body mass index 35+) and 24 who had lost 50% of excess weight following bariatric surgery. During the sessions, participants were asked to consider their experiences in situations including general, family, friends, work place, medical, and educational settings.

Results: Whilst perceptions of discrimination and stigmatisation were common and affected many life situations, they were less prevalent than previous reports. It appeared that it was not the frequency or number of events which affected an individual but the intensity of the experience. Younger women reported greater discrimination than older women and felt the social consequences of obesity to a greater extent. Older women were more concerned about the consequences of being overweight on their health.

Conclusions: Women who had lost weight considered that aspects of their own behaviours when obese contributed to their experiences of discrimination and stigmatisation. Perceptions of discrimination and stigmatisation appear to be influenced by age and current weight status.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / psychology*
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Prejudice*
  • Self Concept
  • Stereotyping*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*
  • Young Adult