Recent research suggests that people who are discriminated against because of their weight (e.g., teased, socially excluded, physically harmed) are more likely to gain weight than to lose weight over time (Sutin & Terracciano, 2013). Scientists have speculated that this may be tied to an increase in unhealthy eating behaviors, such as binge eating to cope with discrimination-related distress (Puhl & Luedicke, 2012). People may also avoid the gym or P.E. class following a discrimination incident because of increased fear of ridicule about their bodies (Puhl & Luedicke, 2012; Sutin & Terracciano, 2013).
These findings sparked our interest in the types of characteristics that make people more or less likely to victimize people due to weight. Ultimately, we hope to use our research to decrease these types of incidents. We recently began analyzing the data for our first study on this topic, and as you can see, we’re very excited about the preliminary findings!
(pictured above are undergraduate research assistant, Jocelyn Converse, and doctoral student, Mun Yee Kwan)