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The Relation of Weight Stigmatization to Psychological Adjustment


  • This manuscript utilizes data collected for a senior honors thesis completed at Rutgers University by the second author under the supervision of the third author with support from the first author.

Dr. Sarah Savoy, Department of Psychology, Stephen F. Austin State University,


This study investigated weight stigmatization as a predictor of adjustment in samples of 100 undergraduates and 99 bariatric patients. Coping strategies (emotion-focused coping, problem-focused coping, disengagement coping) were tested as moderators of this relation. Weight stigmatization predicted depression, anxiety, and antisocial behavior when controlling for the effects of stressful life events. Problem-focused coping weakened the association between weight stigmatization and depression. Emotion-focused coping augmented the relation between weight stigmatization and antisocial behavior. The results support weight stigmatization as a meaningful predictor of adjustment difficulties. Engendering a problem-focused coping style over an emotion-focused coping style might benefit patients reporting weight stigmatization. Further work is necessary to understand what specific elements of these coping styles impact adjustment.

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