Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Size Matters: The Impact of Weight-Based Discrimination on College Students' Physical Health, Mental Health, and Academic Achievement
by Diep, Judy, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2017, 128; 10275373
Abstract (Summary)

Inclusion of students with diverse identities and addressing all forms of discrimination are critical for institutes of higher education. While progress has been made to create welcoming environments for many social groups, one has been largely ignored. Fat* students are at risk for facing weight-based discrimination with possibly detrimental effects to their physical health, mental health, and academic success. Given that there are no legal protections against weight-based discrimination, and a general acceptability of weight bias, fat students are possibly marginalized and left to cope on their own.

The purpose of this quantitative study was to explore gender and racial differences in experiencing weight-based discrimination, and examine the relationships between weight-based discrimination, self-esteem, internalized weight bias, physical health, mental health, and academic achievement. An online survey was completed by 502 students from a large public university in Southern California. The findings revealed that female college students reported experiencing significantly more weight-based discrimination than male college students. Weight-based discrimination significantly predicted lower levels of physical health and mental health. Furthermore, internalized weight bias and self-esteem were found to be significant mediators of the effect of weight-based discrimination on physical health and mental health. The results of this study provide a better understanding of the physical and psychosocial effects of weight-based discrimination of college students. Recommendations are made for the development of size inclusive policies and practices, inclusion of fat pedagogy, and a weight-neutral approach to college health so that students of all sizes may persist and successfully complete their higher educational journeys. *The term “fat” is used in a neutral, non-judgmental sense.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ratanasiripong, Paul
Commitee: Davis, Shametrice, Prince, Judy
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education
Keywords: Academic, Achievement, Discrimination, Health, Matters, Mental, Weight-Based
Publication Number: 10275373
ISBN: 978-0-355-06735-4
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