Topical Area: Medical Nutrition
Weight bias, which refers to negative attitudes and discrimination towards individuals based on body weight, is highly prevalent among pre-healthcare professionals. Thus, it is important to understand the factors determining weight bias in pre-healthcare professionals. The purpose of this study was to examine factors associated with weight bias among pre-healthcare undergraduates majoring in kinesiology.
Data were collected from kinesiology major undergraduates in a sports nutrition class at a large public university. Explicit and implicit weight bias were measured using Anti-fat attitude test (AFAT) and Implicit Association test (IAT), respectively. Independent t-test and multinomial logistic regression were used to study the associations of explicit and implicit weight bias with sociodemographic characteristics, history of dieting, exercise activities, and personal and professional experience with obesity.
Results : We recruited 67 students (24 males). Average AFAT-Blame, Social and Physical scores were 2.76(SD=0.58), 1.73(SD=0.45) and 2.54(SD=0.65), respectively. Ratio of high: moderate: low: no automatic preference for thin over fat people were 35.5%:33.9%:21.0%:9.7%. Males had significantly higher average AFAT-physical scores than females (2.82(SD=0.69) vs 2.39(SD=0.58), respectively, p=0.013). However, females were more likely to have stronger implicit weight bias (Odds ratio=5.50, 95%CI=1.22,24.81). Caucasians had significantly higher average AFAT-social scores than minorities (1.84(SD=0.38) vs 1.56(SD=0.41), respectively, p=0.011). Students doing 75 minutes or more aerobic exercise per week had lower average AFAT-social score than those doing less than 75 minutes of aerobic activities (1.36(SD=0.18) vs 1.74(SD=0.41), respectively, p=0.023). Personal weight history, experience with obesity at personal or professional level were not associated with weight bias scores (p >0.05).
In undergraduate kinesiology students, weight bias was associated with sex, ethnicity and exercise amount, but not with personal and professional experience with obesity. Future research may elucidate why weight bias was not influenced in this population by personal and professional experience with obesity as reported in other populations.
Funding Sources :
Startup funds by the Texas Tech University.