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Weight stigma linked to poor mental, emotional health of sexual, gender minorities – study

Weight stigma is associated with poor mental and emotional health, though this may be especially harmful to sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals because of co-occurring minority stress.

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Weight stigma is associated with poor mental and emotional health, though this may be especially harmful to sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals because of co-occurring minority stress.

This is according to a study – “Weight Stigma and Mental and Emotional Health Among Sexual and Gender Minority Individuals: A Scoping Review” by Sarah I. Leonard, Yashika Sharma, Tonda L. Hughes, Kasey B. Jackman, and Jean-Marie Bruzzese – that appeared in LGBT Health.

In this study, the researchers conducted a scoping review of the literature on weight stigma and mental and emotional health among SGM individuals to synthesize findings, highlight gaps, and identify clinical and research implications.

Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews, the researchers searched PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Scopus in April 2022. Included studies examined the relationship between weight stigma and mental and emotional health among SGM people of any age.

The researchers found:

  • weight stigma was associated with poorer mental and emotional health in nearly all studies
  • the most common outcomes examined were self-esteem, maladaptive eating, and depressive symptoms
  • five studies, all using the same dataset, focused on adolescents; none focused on older adults.

Indeed, the researchers stressed, “weight stigma is associated with poorer mental and emotional health among SGM individuals.” Sadly, because of its “intersections with minority stress, it might impact SGM individuals differently than their cisgender and heterosexual counterparts.”

The researchers recommend that this be given closer look, particularly since “there are important gaps regarding weight stigma’s effect on SGM adolescents and gender minority individuals and its relationship with a broader range of mental and emotional health outcomes.”

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