Association between weight bias internalization and metabolic syndrome among treatment-seeking individuals with obesity.
Weight stigma is a chronic stressor that may increase cardiometabolic risk. Some individuals with obesity self-stigmatize (i.e., weight bias internalization, WBI). No study to date has examined whether WBI is associated with metabolic syndrome.
Blood pressure, waist circumference, and fasting glucose, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were measured at baseline in 178 adults with obesity enrolled in a weight-loss trial. Medication use for hypertension, dyslipidemia, and prediabetes was included in criteria for metabolic syndrome. One hundred fifty-nine participants (88.1% female, 67.3% black, mean BMI = 41.1 kg/m2
) completed the Weight Bias Internalization Scale and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9, to assess depressive symptoms). Odds ratios and partial correlations were calculated adjusting for demographics, BMI, and PHQ-9 scores.
Fifty-one participants (32.1%) met criteria for metabolic syndrome. Odds of meeting criteria for metabolic syndrome were greater among participants with higher WBI, but not when controlling for all covariates (OR = 1.46, 95% CI = 1.00-2.13, P = 0.052). Higher WBI predicted greater odds of having high triglycerides (OR = 1.88, 95% CI = 1.14-3.09, P = 0.043). Analyzed categorically, high (vs. low) WBI predicted greater odds of metabolic syndrome and high triglycerides (Ps < 0.05).
Individuals with obesity who self-stigmatize may have heightened cardiometabolic risk. Biological and behavioral pathways linking WBI and metabolic syndrome require further exploration.
Pearl, RL; Wadden, TA; Hopkins, CM; Shaw, JA; Hayes, MR; Bakizada, ZM; Alfaris, N; Chao, AM; Pinkasavage, E; Berkowitz, RI; Alamuddin, N
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