The Effects of Reality Television on Weight Bias: An Examination of The Biggest Loser

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Weight bias and discrimination is pervasive and increasingly well-documented. Weight loss reality television shows, such as The Biggest Loser, feature obese persons struggling to lose weight. While some research suggests that these shows fuel anti-fat attitudes and stereotypes, other research suggests that it may serve as an inspiration and motivator for those trying to be healthy.

Weight bias and discrimination is pervasive and increasingly well-documented. Weight loss reality television shows, such as The Biggest Loser, feature obese persons struggling to lose weight. While some research suggests that these shows fuel anti-fat attitudes and stereotypes, other research suggests that it may serve as an inspiration and motivator for those trying to be healthy.

A poster presentation at the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s 33rd Annual Meting & Scientific Sessions will highlight results from a recent study, which investigated the impact of watching an episode of The Biggest Loser on levels of weight bias for participants. Results indicated that those who viewed The Biggest Loser had significantly higher levels of dislike of overweight individuals and more strongly indicated that they believed weight is under one’s personal control. This Presentation will take place during Poster Session A on Wednesday April 11th from 6:30 to 8:00 pm in the Hilton Exhibition Center (HEC) at the Hilton Riverside.

Presenters include Afton M. Koball, Kyoung Deok Baik, Sarah E. Domoff, Nova G. Hinman, Amy Storfer-Isser, and Vicki L. Carhart. All are doctoral students in clinical or developmental psychology at Bowling Green State University. Additionally, Dr. Robert A. Carels will be on hand to discuss these findings. Dr. Carels has been investigating weight bias for several years, and has developed a strong body of research highlighting the negative impact it has on the individual.

The Society of Behavioral Medicine is a multidisciplinary organization of clinicians, educators, and scientists dedicated to promoting the study of the interactions of behavior with biology and the environment and the application of that knowledge to improve the health and well being of individuals, families, communities, and populations.

This study was presented during the 2012 Annual Meeting and Scientific Session of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) from April 11 – 14 in New Orleans, LA. However, it does not reflect the policies or the opinion of the SBM.

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Afton Koball

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