This study investigated whether perceived weight discrimination is associated with increased risk for major chronic medical conditions and whether the associations persist after adjusting for other stressful life events in addition to BMI, physical activity and sociodemographic variables.
The study included 21 357 overweight/obese adults (52.9% women) from the 2001 to 2002 and 2004 to 2005 National Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions.
Perceived weight discrimination was significantly associated with risk for arteriosclerosis, diabetes, high cholesterol, myocardial infarction, minor heart conditions and stomach ulcers. Perceived weight discrimination was associated with reporting more stressful life events. After adjusting additionally for stressful life events in the final multiple logistic regression, associations with arteriosclerosis, diabetes and minor cardiac conditions remained significant. Gender-stratified analyses revealed that perceived weight discrimination was associated with different medical conditions in women than men, and many associations became non-significant when adjusting for stressful life events, particularly for women.
Among overweight/obese adults, perceived weight discrimination is associated with significantly increased risk for obesity-related chronic medical conditions even after adjusting for BMI, physical activity and sociodemographic variables. Accounting for other acute stressful life events may also be important in understanding the health effects of perceived weight discrimination. Such added health risk of overweight/obesity posed by perceived weight discrimination warrants public health and policy interventions against weight discrimination to reduce the socioeconomic burden of obesity.
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