Group cognitive-behavioral treatment for internalized weight stigma: a pilot study

  • Rebecca L. Pearl
  • Christina H. Hopkins
  • Robert I. Berkowitz
  • Thomas A. Wadden
Original Article

Abstract

Objective

This study tested a novel group-based, cognitive-behavioral intervention designed to reduce internalized weight stigma among individuals with obesity.

Methods

A total of eight men and women with obesity who had experienced weight stigma and reported high levels of internalized weight stigma attended the Weight Bias Internalization and Stigma (BIAS) Program. The program provided eight weekly sessions of cognitive-behavioral treatment to cope with weight stigma. Participants completed questionnaires pre- and post-intervention, including the Weight Bias Internalization Scale (WBIS), Fat Phobia Scale, Weight Efficacy Life-Style Questionnaire (WEL), and Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Six additional participants were included in a quasi-control group that received no intervention until after completing all study measures.

Results

Participants in the Weight BIAS Program reported significantly greater decreases in WBIS and Fat Phobia scores, and greater increases in WEL scores than participants in the quasi-control group (ps < .04). Changes in BDI-II scores did not differ between groups. Treatment-acceptability ratings were high among participants who received the intervention.

Conclusion

Including cognitive-behavioral strategies to address weight stigma in weight management programs could potentially reduce internalized weight stigma and enhance treatment outcomes.

Keywords

Cognitive-behavioral Internalized weight stigma Obesity Self-efficacy 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Funding

None to report.

Conflict of interest

TAW discloses serving on advisory boards for Novo Nordisk, Nutrisystem, and Weight Watchers, as well as receiving grant support, on behalf of the University of Pennsylvania, from Eisai Pharmaceutical Co. None of the other authors declares any conflicts.

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_2016_336_MOESM1_ESM.docx (65 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 64 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca L. Pearl
    • 1
  • Christina H. Hopkins
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert I. Berkowitz
    • 1
    • 3
  • Thomas A. Wadden
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryPerelman School of Medicine at the University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral ScienceChildren’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA

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