Weight Bias & Stigma > Education

Students with overweight and obesity can face stigma and discrimination throughout their education. Over a decade ago, the National Education Association report on size discrimination concluded:

“For fat students, the school experience is one of ongoing prejudice, unnoticed discrimination, and almost constant harassment. From nursery school through college, fat students experience ostracism, discouragement, and sometimes violence.”

Young people of higher weight contend with multiple sources of weight bias in the school setting. Research shows that bias can be exhibited not only in the form of harassment by fellow students, but also in the attitudes and actions of teachers and school health care workers. In one study, for example, physical education teachers reported having lower expectations for students with overweight than for "normal weight" students in many areas, including social, physical, reasoning, and cooperation skills. Thus, efforts to combat weight bias and improve the school climate must include initiatives to educate both students and teachers.