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Joan Chrisler

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Weight bias is often referred to as one of the last accepted and unaddressed forms of discrimination in the U.S. today. Fat individuals are often stereotyped as inactive, unmotivated, and lazy. As a result, fat people experience discrimination and stigma in many aspects of their daily lives including employment, income, romantic relationships, as well as relationships with family, friends, and peers. This discrimination also extends to fat children and young adolescents who experience bullying, victimization, and harassment in school. In the present study, a film and discussion-based intervention was developed to reduce fat stigma and weight bias among middle school-aged children. In addition, this intervention was created to increase body respect and appreciation among participants regardless of their size. Analyses showed that this intervention was successful in reducing fat stigma among girls but not among boys. However, body respect and appreciation did not increase among either girls or boys. These results indicate that all children, especially boys, should be given more opportunities to engage in discussions and activities that address body size, shape, and stigma, prior to middle school in order to cultivate and encourage more open mindedness and positive attitudes toward fat. This intervention has the potential to reduce weight-based stigma among middle school-aged children, however, it must be modified so that girls and boys can benefit equally.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.