Anti-fat prejudice reduction: a review of published studies

Obes Facts. 2010 Feb;3(1):47-58. doi: 10.1159/000277067. Epub 2010 Feb 11.


Prejudice against those who are perceived as 'fat' or obese (anti-fat prejudice) is rife, increasing, and associated with negative outcomes for those targeted for such treatment. The present review sought to identify and describe published research on interventions to reduce anti-fat prejudice. A systematic search of relevant databases (e.g. PsychInfo, PubMed, Scopus) found 16 published studies that had sought to reduce anti-fat prejudice. Most notable was the lack of research on interventions for reducing anti-fat prejudice. Methodological problems that limit the interpretability of results were identified in the majority of studies found. Interventions employing more rigorous experimental designs provided at best mixed evidence for effectiveness. Although several studies reported changes in beliefs and knowledge about the causes of obesity, reductions in anti-fat prejudice did not typically accompany these changes. Anti-fat prejudice interventions adopting social norm- and social consensus-based approaches appear encouraging but are scarce. The lack of prejudice reduction following most interventions suggests that psychological mechanisms other than, or additional to, those being manipulated may underpin anti-fat prejudice. New directions for researching anti-fat prejudice are suggested. Given the strength of antipathy displayed toward those who are perceived as 'fat' or obese, research in this area is urgently required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Behavior* / physiology
  • Consensus
  • Culture
  • Empathy
  • Humans
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Overweight / psychology*
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Prejudice*
  • Publishing
  • Social Desirability