Purpose: To explore the psychological impact of weight labels. Design: A double-blind experiment that randomly informed participants that they were "normal weight" or "overweight." Setting: Public university in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Participants: Normal-weight and overweight female undergraduates (N = 113). Measures: The Body Image States Scale, Stunkard Rating Scale, Weight Bias Internalization Scale, Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, General Health question from the 12-item Short Form Health Survey, modified version of the Weight Loss Methods Scale, and a manipulation check. Analysis: A 2 × 2 between-subjects analysis of variance explored the main effects of the assigned weight label and actual weight and interactions between assigned weight label and actual weight. Results: Significant main effects of the assigned weight label emerged on measures of body dissatisfaction, F(1, 109) = 12.40, p =.001, η p 2 = 0.10, internalized weight stigma, F(1, 108) = 4.35, p =.039, η p 2 =.04, and negative affect, F(1, 108) = 9.22, p =.003, η p 2 =.08. Significant assigned weight label × actual weight interactions were found on measures of perceived body image, F(1, 109) = 6.29, p =.014, η p 2 =.06, and perceived health, F(1, 109) = 4.18, p =.043, η p 2 =.04. Conclusion: A weight label of "overweight" may have negative psychological consequences, particularly for overweight women.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health