Weight stigma and diabetes stigma in U.S. adults with type 2 diabetes: Associations with diabetes self-care behaviors and perceptions of health care

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2020 Oct:168:108387. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2020.108387. Epub 2020 Aug 26.


Aims: Diabetes stigma and weight stigma have been identified as important but neglected issues that warrant attention among people with type 2 diabetes. This study assessed associations of diabetes stigma and weight stigma with diabetes self-care behaviors and health care in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Methods: U.S. adults with type 2 diabetes (N = 1,227) completed self-report questionnaires to assess their experiences of weight stigma, diabetes stigma, diabetes self-management, diabetes-specific distress, healthcare utilization, perceptions of diabetes-specific health care. They also provided sociodemographic information. Linear regressions examined relationships among stigma and diabetes self-care and related health care, controlling for participants' age, education, income, gender, race/ethnicity, and body mass index.

Results: Internalized weight stigma and diabetes self-stigma were both significantly associated with higher diabetes-specific distress. Adults who expressed self-stigma for their diabetes reported less diabetes self-management and lower self-efficacy, and those who reported being judged about their weight by a doctor exhibited greater diabetes-specific distress. While a history of experienced weight stigma (in general) did not reduce frequency of seeking health care, lower quality interactions with health care professionals were reported by adults who expressed diabetes self-stigma and those who experienced weight stigma from a doctor.

Conclusions: Self-stigma for diabetes and body weight, as well as experiencing judgment about weight from doctors, may have negative implications for diabetes-specific self-care behaviors and perceived quality of health care. Efforts to promote wellbeing in individuals with type 2 diabetes need to consider reducing both diabetes and weight stigma and their potentially harmful consequences.

Keywords: Diabetes care; Obesity; Prejudice; Quality of care; Stigma.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Perception
  • Self Care
  • Social Stigma*
  • United States