Research Topic Title: Responding to weight stigma: Helpful and unhelpful coping strategies
The prevalence of high-weight status is increasing globally, with approximately 60% of people in the UK considered “overweight” or “obese” by BMI standards, and similar rates in many other countries. Despite this, higher-weight individuals experience prejudice and discrimination in practically every domain of daily living, including education, employment, healthcare, and interpersonal relationships. We know from other oppressed groups that stigma is associated with poorer health and life outcomes, and in the last ten years, these effects have been demonstrated also in the case of weight stigma.
Little is known about how the impact of weight stigma is transmitted, and even less on how the harms can be minimised. How people cope with stigma may affect outcomes: people who reject and challenge stigma directed at their group tend to fare better than those who are resigned to their devalued status. The act of challenging stigma also has the potential to change what is considered acceptable behaviour. Unlike many other stigmatised groups, though, high-weight individuals often hold anti-fat attitudes themselves. However, stigma resistance has not been studied in high-weight individuals, and we do not know why some people internalise societal weight stigma, whereas others actively resist it. Understanding how these processes occur, and identifying potential targets for intervention, is of critical importance to public policy. My work focuses on the processes involved in internalisation and resistance of weight stigma.
A secondary interest is how terminology usage in weight stigma research and in clinical practice may reinforce cultural narratives and perpetuate stigma.
Mentor: Professor Manuela Barreto
Peer reviewed journal articles
Meadows A. Weight stigma and physical health: An unconsidered ‘obesity’ cost. Under review.
Meadows A, Higgs S. (2019) The multifaceted nature of weight-related self-stigma: Revisiting the 19-item Weight Bias Internalization Scale. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 808. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00808.
Meadows A, Higgs S. Internalised weight stigma moderates the impact of a stigmatising prime on eating in the absence of hunger in higher- but not lower-weight individuals. Under review.
Meadows A, Higgs S. A bifactor analysis of the Weight Bias Internalization Scale: What are we really measuring? Under review.
Bombak AE, Meadows A, Billette J. (2019) Fat acceptance 101: Midwestern American women’s perspective on cultural body acceptance. Health Sociology Review. DOI: 10.1080/14461242.2019.1604150.
Meadows A, Bombak AE. Yes, we can (No, you can’t): Weight stigma, self-efficacy, and the development of active-fat identity. Fat Studies. In press.
Calogero RM, Tylka TL, Mensinger JL, Meadows A, Daníelsdóttir S. Recognizing fat as a fundamental right: A weight-inclusive approach to size acceptance and healing from sizeism. Women & Therapy. In press.
Meadows A, Higgs S, Burke SE, Dovidio JF, van Ryn M, Phelan SM (2017). Social dominance orientation, dispositional empathy, and need for cognitive closure moderate the impact of empathy-skills training, but not patient contact, on medical students’ negative attitudes toward higher-weight patients. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 504. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00504
Meadows A, Nolan LJ, Higgs S (2017). Self-perceived food addiction: prevalence, predictors, and prognosis. Appetite, 114, 282–298. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.03.051
Meadows A, Daníelsdóttir S, Calogero R, O’Reilly C (2017). Why fat suits do not advance the scientific study of weight stigma. Obesity, 25, 275. DOI: 10.1002/oby.21742
Mensinger J, Meadows A (2017). Internalized weight stigma mediates and moderates physical activity outcomes during a healthy living program for women with high body mass index. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 30, 64–72. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2017.01.010
Meadows A, Daníelsdóttir S (2016). What’s in a word: On weight stigma and terminology. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1527. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01527
Meadows A, Higgs S (2014). Impact of experienced and internalised weight stigma on eating behaviour and psychological outcomes. Appetite, 83, 1 Dec, 345
Meadows A, Higgs S (2013). “I’m addicted to food”: characteristics and predictors of self-perceived food addiction. Appetite, 71, 1 Dec, 482
Manuscripts in preparation
Meadows A, Higgs S. Fear of weight-related stigma from others but not self-devaluation predicts worsening food addiction symptoms over time
Meadows A, Hlavka R, Carels R. Recall bias limits reliability and validity of a brief measure of experienced weight stigma
Meadows A, Higgs S. Is resistance futile? A social identity model of weight stigma resistance
Meadows A, Calogero RM (2018). Studies on weight stigma and body image in higher-weight individuals. In Body Image, Eating, and Weight, M Cuzzolaro, S Fassino (eds). Cham: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-90817-5_28
Meadows A (2014) Fat and fit: Possible, probable, protective? In R Chastain (ed) The politics of size: Perspectives from the Fat-Acceptance Movement. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-Clio.
Writing for the public
Meadows A (2018, May 9). Discrimination against fat people is so endemic, most of us don’t even realise it’s happening. The Conversation [Internet]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/discrimination-against-fat-people-is-so-endemic-most-of-us-dont-even-realise-its-happening-94862
Meadows A (2016, March 22). Separate PE classes for fat kids is not the answer. Huffington Post UK [Internet]. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/angela-meadows/separate-pe-classes-for-fat-kids_b_9506028.html
Meadows A (2015, Oct 7). Let them eat cake. Huffington Post UK [Internet]. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/angela-meadows/mary-berry-cake_b_8252770.html
Meadows A (2015, Jun 1). Why do heavier children do worse at school? It’s not their fault. The Conversation [Internet]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/why-do-heavier-children-do-worse-at-school-its-not-their-fault-42458.
Meadows A (2014, Mar 19). Promoting prejudice: Ableism, weight stigma and just really bad science. Huffington Post UK [Internet]. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/angela-meadows/promoting-prejudice-ableism-weight-stigma-and-just-really-bad-science_b_4983972.html
Meadows A (2013, Oct 21). Being nice to fat people? It matters. Huffington Post UK [Internet]. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/angela-meadows/being-nice-to-fat-people-it-matters_b_4131826.html
Meadows A (2013, Jul 29). Healthy fat chef “too unhealthy” to live in New Zealand. Huffington Post UK [Internet]. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/angela-meadows/healthy-fat-chef-too-unhealthy-to-live-in-new-zealand_b_3663813.html
Meadows A (2013, Jan 2). New Year – Same old nonsense about obesity. Huffington Post UK [Internet]. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/angela-meadows/obesity-weightloss-new-year-same-old-nonsense_b_2395273.html
Website / Blog: angelameadows.info