BACKGROUND: Anti-fat attitudes may lead to stigmatisation of and lowered self-esteem in obese people. Examining anti-fat attitudes is warranted given that there is an association with anti-fat behaviours. Previous studies, mainly outside the UK, have demonstrated that anti-fat attitudes are increasing over time.
METHODS: The study was cross-sectional with a sample of 2380 participants (74.2 % female; aged 18-65 years). In an online survey participants reported demographic characteristics and completed a range of implicit and explicit measures of obesity related attitudes.
RESULTS: Perceptions of obesity were more negative than reported in previously. Main effects indicated more negative perceptions in males, younger respondents and more frequent exercisers. Attitudes about obesity differed in relation to weight category, and in general were more positive in obese than non-obese respondents.
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to demonstrate anti-fat attitudes across different sections of the UK population. As such, this study provides the first indication of the prevalence of anti-fat attitudes in UK adults. Interventions to modify these attitudes could target specific groups of individuals with more negative perceptions as identified here. Future work would be useful that increases understanding of both implicit and explicit attitudes towards obesity.