Understanding the relationship between family communication and the development of weight stigma

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Asbury, Mary Beth
Woszidlo, Alesia
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Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Communication, College of Liberal Arts
Health Psychology Report
Background: This study examined the relationship between family communication and weight stigma. The Family Communication Patterns Theory was used as a framework to explain the relationships between two dimensions of family communication (i.e., conversation orientation and conformity orientation) and antifat attitudes (i.e., physical unattractiveness and weight blame). Participants and Procedure: A total of 585 college-aged participants completed an online questionnaire. We used the following instruments: body mass index (BMI), Antifat Attitudes Scale (AFAT), Revised Family Communication Patterns Scale (RFCP). Results: Significant relationships were found between the two dimensions of family communication and antifat attitudes. Conversation orientation was negatively associated with antifat attitudes and conformity orientation was positively associated with antifat attitudes. In addition, pluralistic families were less likely to stigmatize the overweight and obese by demonstrating less discrimination with physical attraction and personal weight blame. Conclusions: These findings highlight the important association between family communication and antifat attitudes. Families that endorse a pluralistic family type (i.e., high conversation orientation and low conformity orientation) appear to engage in the least amount of discrimination with regard to weight stigma. These families are not only less discriminating of others, they perhaps bring about more awareness and information to family members as compared to other family types.
Family communication patterns, obesity, weight stigma, antifat attitudes
Health Psychology Report, 4(3), 213-223