Higher body mass index (BMI), childhood overweight, and weight stigmatization are correlated with depression and body dissatisfaction. Given that overweight/obese individuals are likely to experience significant weight stigma, the goal of the current study was to examine the effects of current weight and childhood overweight on depression and body dissatisfaction, and to examine weight stigmatization as a mediator in these relationships. Participants were 380 undergraduate students from the University of South Florida (84.5% female) with a mean age of 21.18 (SD = 4.32) and a mean BMI of 23.86 (SD = 5.03). Of these students, 53.4% were White, 24.7% were Hispanic, 10.0% were Black, 7.9% were Asian, and 3.9% reported Other; 31% reported having been overweight as children. A measurement model and three structural models were examined using EQS Version 6.2. The measurement model was found to have very good fit: χ2 (1) = 0.000, p > .98; CFI = 1.0; SRMR = .00; RMSEA = .000, 90% CI [0.00, 0.00]; all correlation residuals < |.10|. The final full model was the best-fitting structural model, with very good fit: χ2 (8) = 9.607, p >.29; CFI = .999; SRMR = .013; RMSEA = .023, 90% CI [0.000, 0.067]; all residuals < |.10|. This is the first study to examine the relationships among weight stigma experience, depression, and body image dissatisfaction. Results indicated that weight stigma explained some of the variance in the relationships between current BMI and body dissatisfaction and current BMI and depressive symptoms. Weight stigma was also found to explain some of the variance in the relationship between childhood overweight and depressive symptoms. In addition, after controlling for childhood overweight and body image dissatisfaction, higher current BMI predicted lower levels of depressive symptoms. This is the first study to examine weight stigma as a mediator of the effects of BMI and childhood overweight on depression and body image dissatisfaction. The current study highlights the need to address weight stigmatization among overweight/obese individuals and to promote public education on the short- and long-term effects of weight stigma. Future researchers should examine the effect of other variables on the development of depressive symptoms in overweight and obese individuals, as well as potential protective factors.
School of Behavioral Health
Arechiga, Adam L.
Morrell, Holly E. R.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Obesity; Depression: Body Mass Index; Body Image; Self Concept; Social Stigma; Confidence Intervals; Regression Analysis; Multivariate Analysis
Subject - Local
Weight Stigmatization; Body Dissatisfaction; Depressive Symptoms; Childhood Obesity
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Stevens, Serena D., "Weight Stigma as a Mediator among BMI, Childhood Overweight, Body Image and Depression" (2015). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 225.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives