Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Weight bias exists in some health-related degree programs. Overweight and obese persons who experience weight bias in health-related services often delay or avoid medical attention altogether. Guided by the attribution theory, the purpose of this sequential explanatory study was to examine weight bias among health majors at a southwest regional university to illuminate how attitudes can affect the level of care provided to overweight persons. The Attitudes toward Obese Persons (ATOP) scores from a convenience sample of 184 health majors revealed that participants' scores were found to be significantly lower than the midpoint (60) of the ATOP scale, M = 56.68, SD = 16.75, t(183) = -2.69, p < .01, indicating more negative attitudes toward obese persons. As a follow-up measure, 12 interviews were conducted to examine how health majors described their own experiences in working with obese persons. Thematic analysis revealed that the majority of participants expressed common stereotypes to describe obese persons as lazy, lacking self-discipline, and unhealthy. The integration of both sets of data supported the need to develop weight bias curriculum to facilitate social change whereby adaptive approaches to minimize weight bias among students within the classroom and clinical settings become best practice. Future research efforts in the development and evaluation of interventions are needed to reduce weight bias among academic institutions that offer health-related degree programs.