The Ways that People Cope with Weight Stigma May Have Important Health Implications

Considerable evidence has linked the experience of being teased or bullied because of weight to poor health. Yet few studies have explored how individuals cope with being mistreated because of their weight, or the role that coping responses to weight stigma may play in health outcomes. The findings of a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut show that coping responses to weight stigma help explain why experiencing weight stigma can affect negative or positive health outcomes. Coping with weight stigma by engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors (like exercise or eating healthy foods) was associated with better health, including greater self-esteem, better physical and psychological wellbeing, and less frequent depressive symptoms. Responding to weight stigma with negative emotions and maladaptive eating (such as starving, bingeing or purging) were linked with more depressive symptoms, lower selfesteem and worse physical and emotional health, according to the study.