Reducing the stigma of bariatric surgery: Benefits of providing information about necessary lifestyle changes

Authors


  • Disclosure: The authors have no competing interests.

Abstract

Objective

The aim of this study was to determine whether providing information about the lifestyle changes required for an individual to lose weight following bariatric surgery would mitigate the negative judgments of that individual.

Methods

In an experimental design, participants provided their initial impressions of a woman with obesity before learning that she had lost a significant amount of weight through: (1) diet/exercise, (2) surgery, or (3) surgery + diet/exercise. Participants then provided their impressions of the woman after she had lost weight.

Results

For ratings of laziness, competence, and responsibility for weight loss, the individual who lost weight through surgery was rated most negatively, followed by the individual who lost weight through surgery + diet/exercise, with the individual who lost weight through diet/exercise alone rated as least lazy, most competent, and most responsible for her weight loss. Mediation analyses further showed that group differences in target ratings of laziness/competence were due to perceptions of responsibility for weight loss.

Conclusions

Providing information about the lifestyle changes required for losing weight following bariatric surgery can somewhat dampen the negative evaluations of surgery patients. These findings also highlight the importance of perceived effort in judgments of individuals with obesity.

Ancillary