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© 2019 Objectives: To investigate the effect of weight stigma in news media on (a) intentions to increase physical activity (PA), improve diet quality and lose weight, and (b) changes in PA, diet quality and body mass index (BMI) over one month, in (i) women of all weight categories and (ii) a subsample of women living with obesity. Methods: UK-based women (N = 172; subgroup with obesity N = 81) were assigned to read an experimental (weight stigma; N = 75) or control (smoking stigma; N = 97) news article. Questionnaires were administered immediately after, and one month subsequently to collect information on BMI, PA, diet quality, intentions, past stigma, and diet and PA self-efficacy. Logistic and linear regression analyses were used to assess the effect of weight stigma on all outcome variables. Results: In the whole sample, there was no significant effect of weight stigma on any primary or secondary outcome. In women with obesity, there was no significant effect of weight stigma on diet quality (0.26 units, 95% CI: −0.36 to 0.87) or PA (−1.83 units, 95% CI: −11.11 to 7.44) at follow up, but exposure to weight stigma was associated with a significant increase in BMI at 1-month follow-up (1.15 kg/m2, 95% CI: 0.38 to 1.92) compared with the control group. Conclusions: In people with obesity, exposure to weight-stigmatising media may contribute to increased BMI over time. Larger trials with longer follow-up are needed to confirm these findings.

Original publication




Journal article


Obesity Research and Clinical Practice

Publication Date





571 - 578