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Sex differences in the relationships among weight stigma, depression, and binge eating

Wellman, Joseph D., Araiza, Ashley M., Solano, Crystal, Berru, Eric
Appetite 2019 v.133 pp. 166-173
binging, consciousness, females, gender differences, males, stigma, United States
Weight stigma and weight discrimination are prevalent in the United States and binge eating has been found to be associated with these experiences in numerous studies. One issue with the current literature on weight stigma and binge eating, however, is that study samples are primarily female, resulting in a lack of understanding of this relationship among males. To address this gap, we examined potential sex differences in the association between weight stigma and binge eating, as well as mediators of this relationship. Specifically, we examined experiences of weight discrimination and weight stigma consciousness as predictors of binge eating, and we assessed whether these relationships were mediated by depression, perceived stress, and/or perceived control. Results showed that, among females and males, experiences of weight discrimination significantly predicted binge eating and depression mediated this relationship; perceived stress also mediated this association, but only among males, and perceived control did not mediate for either sex. Results also showed that, among males, the relationship between weight stigma consciousness and binge eating was mediated by depression and perceived control, but not perceived stress. Weight stigma consciousness was unrelated to binge eating among females. Together, these findings suggest that weight stigma constructs differentially impact females and males, thereby illuminating the possible need for consideration of sex as an important component of efforts to reduce weight stigma.