Association between perceived health care stigmatization and BMI change

  • Hansson L
  • Rasmussen F
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BACKGROUND/AIMS This study examined the association between experiences of health care stigmatization and BMI changes in men and women with normal weight and obesity in Sweden. METHODS The participants were drawn from a population-based survey in Sweden (1996-2006), and data on their perceived health care stigmatization were measured in 2008. They were categorized in individuals with normal weight (n = 1,064), moderate obesity (n = 1,273), and severe obesity (n = 291). The main outcome measure was change in BMI. RESULTS Individuals with severe obesity experiencing any health care stigmatization showed a BMI increase by 1.5 kg/m2 more than individuals with severe obesity with no such experience. For individuals with moderate obesity, insulting treatment by a physician and avoidance of health care were associated with a relative BMI increase of 0.40 and 0.75 kg/m2, respectively, compared with their counterparts who did not experience stigmatization in these areas. No difference in experience of any form of health care stigmatizing associated BMI change was observed for men and women with normal weight. CONCLUSION In this large, population-based study, perceived health care stigmatization was associated with an increased relative BMI in individuals with severe obesity. For moderate obesity, the evidence of an association was inconclusive.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Body weight changes
  • Gender identity
  • Obesity
  • Prejudice
  • Primary health care

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  • Lena M. Hansson

  • Finn Rasmussen

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