Healthcare professionals have a general bias against overweight people, Yale University researchers have discovered.
The Implicit Associations Test and a questionnaire were given to 389 healthcare professionals at the opening session of an international obesity conference to assess their attitudes toward obesity and their personal experiences with it.
Results showed that healthcare professionals hold an implicit “pro-thin, anti-fat” bias unless the individual was overweight or had obese friends. In addition, the healthcare professionals “significantly endorsed the implicit stereotypes of [overweight people being] lazy, stupid and worthless.”
The researchers say understanding the extent of this anti-fat bias will help in developing intervention strategies to eliminate these attitudes.
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Obesity Research, October 2003