A sympathetic nervous system evaluation of obesity stigma

Michael D. Oliver, Subimal Datta, Debora R. Baldwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The portrayal of obesity in the media is often one of negativity. Consequently, it may generate an increase in stigma. Obesity stigma, a form of social discrimination, is responsible for many of the negative psychological and physiological effects on individual wellness. These effects not only impact individual health, but also affect the economy, and ultimately, societal wellness. In an attempt to examine the influence of the media on obesity stigma, this study tested the hypothesis that positive priming would lead to a reduction in obesity stigma. To further our understanding of this relationship, we: 1) examined the role of priming on physiological measures (e.g. salivary alpha amylase and skin conductance) in 70 college students by introducing positive and negative media images of individuals with obesity, and 2) assessed psychological measures (e.g. perceived stress, need to belong, and self-esteem, and Body Mass Index). After the priming manipulation, participants read a vignette depicting the discrimination of an individual with obesity and answered subsequent questions assessing participants’ attributional blame of obesity. Results of this study revealed that priming affects physiological responding to obesity stigmatization. In conclusion, these findings suggest that incorporating positive media images of individuals with obesity may be an effective tool for reducing stigma and the various physiological consequences associated with it, which in turn, can enhance societal health and wellness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0185703
JournalPloS one
Volume12
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

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sympathetic nervous system
Sympathetic Nervous System
Neurology
stigma
obesity
Salivary alpha-Amylases
Obesity
Health
Skin
Students
Social Discrimination
Psychology
self-esteem
Stereotyping
college students
alpha-amylase
Self Concept
body mass index
Body Mass Index

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

A sympathetic nervous system evaluation of obesity stigma. / Oliver, Michael D.; Datta, Subimal; Baldwin, Debora R.

In: PloS one, Vol. 12, No. 10, e0185703, 01.10.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Oliver, Michael D. ; Datta, Subimal ; Baldwin, Debora R. / A sympathetic nervous system evaluation of obesity stigma. In: PloS one. 2017 ; Vol. 12, No. 10.
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