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Mediated effects of eating disturbances in the association of perceived weight stigma and emotional distress

  • Chung-Ying LinEmail author
  • Carol Strong
  • Janet D. Latner
  • Yi-Ching Lin
  • Meng-Che Tsai
  • Pauline Cheung
Original Article
  • 17 Downloads

Abstract

Purpose

This study aimed to examine the relationships between perceived weight stigma, eating disturbances, and emotional distress across individuals with different self-perceived weight status.

Methods

University students from Hong Kong (n = 400) and Taiwan (n = 307) participated in this study and completed several questionnaires: Perceived Weight Stigma questionnaire; Three-factor Eating Questionnaire; Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Each participant self-reported their height, weight, and self-perceived weight status.

Results

After controlling for demographics, perceived weight stigma was associated with eating disturbances (β = 0.223, p < 0.001), depression (β = 0.143, p < 0.001), and anxiety (β = 0.193, p < 0.001); and eating disturbances was associated with depression (β = 0.147, p < 0.001) and anxiety (β = 0.300, p < 0.001) in the whole sample. Additionally, eating disturbances mediated the association between perceived weight stigma and emotional distress. Similar findings were shown in the subsamples who perceived themselves as higher weight or normal weight and in the male and female subsamples. However, in the subsamples who perceived themselves as lower weight, only the links between eating disturbances and emotional distress were significant.

Conclusion

Perceived weight stigma was associated with eating disturbances and emotional distress in young adults with both higher and normal weight. Eating disturbances were associated with emotional distress regardless of participants’ weight status.

Level of evidence

Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study.

Keywords

Asian Anxiety Depression Eating behaviors Weight bias 

Notes

Funding

This research was supported in part by (received funding from) the startup fund in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

40519_2019_641_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 KB)

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social SciencesThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHung HomHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Public Health, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, College of MedicineNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Department of Early Childhood and Family Education, College of EducationNational Taipei University of EducationTaipeiTaiwan
  5. 5.Department of Pediatrics, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, College of MedicineNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanTaiwan

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