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Mar 08 2023

PSID Seminar: Weight Discrimination and Mental health: Protective and Exacerbating Social Factors

Sadie Ridgeway, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sociology, Washington State University

Wednesday, March 8, 2023
1:00 – 2:00 pm

Join via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 924 0092 0526
Passcode: 372096

Research has established that people of size face prevalent and severe weight stigma and discrimination, and that these experiences are health-harming. However, people who face weight stigma and discrimination do not experience equal health consequences, and questions remain regarding factors that shape vulnerability or resilience and explain these differences. This study investigates these questions, testing if key social statuses (i.e., body size, race/ethnicity, gender, and social class) and social resources (considering social integration and social support from parents and romantic partners, and social well-being) shape or buffer the effects of perceived weight discrimination on psychological distress in young adulthood. These questions are tested using the 2017 wave of the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics (PSID) Transition to Adulthood Supplement (TAS) with a sample of young adults ages 17-28 (n=1,310). Results show that both race and body size significantly moderate the effect of weight discrimination on psychological distress, revealing important social status differences in vulnerability to and resiliency against mental health consequences. Regarding social resources, social integration (having a marital partner), social support (high parental closeness and affection), and high social well-being significantly moderate the effect of perceived weight discrimination, providing substantial protection from psychological distress as a result. These findings demonstrate that both structural and functional aspects of relationships, as well as their sources, matter for their power as a resource. Finally, these questions are examined within the context of young adulthood, extending the literature into this key life stage.