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Behaviour, Psychology and Sociology

Sociodemographic predictors of perceived weight discrimination



Perceived weight discrimination is associated with increased risk for chronic diseases and reduced life expectancy. Nevertheless, little is known about perceived weight discrimination in racial, ethnic, and sexual minority groups or in individuals at the intersections of those groups. The goal of this study was to identify sociodemographic predictors of perceived weight discrimination.


A diverse sample of adults (37% Black/African American, 36% Latino, 29% sexual minority) with a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 18.5 kg/m2 were recruited from a national US panel to complete an online survey (N = 2454). Perceived weight discrimination was assessed with the Stigmatizing Situations Survey-Brief (SSI-B). Using hierarchical linear regression analysis, SSI-B scores were predicted from the four sociodemographic characteristics of interest (gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation) while controlling for BMI, age, education, and income (Step 1). At Step 2, all two-way interactions between the four sociodemographic characteristics were added to the model.


At Step 1, higher SSI-B scores were observed for Latino (vs. non-Latino) adults, sexual minority (vs. heterosexual) adults, younger (vs. older) adults, adults with higher (vs. lower) levels of education, and adults with higher (vs. lower) BMI. At Step 2, race interacted with gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation to predict SSI-B scores such that relatively higher scores were observed for non-Black women, Black men, adults who identified as Black and Latino, and non-Black sexual minority adults.


Perceived weight discrimination varied across sociodemographic groups, with some subgroups reporting relatively high frequency. Black race appeared to be protective for some subgroups (e.g., Black women), but risk-enhancing for others (e.g., Black men, individuals who identified as Black and Latino). Additional research is needed to identify specific factors that cause certain sociodemographic groups –and indeed, certain individuals—to perceive higher levels of weight discrimination than others.

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Fig. 1: Covariate-adjusted marginal means on the Stigmatizing Situations Survey-Brief (SSI-B) as a function of race and gender with 95% confidence intervals.
Fig. 2: Covariate-adjusted marginal means on the Stigmatizing Situations Survey-Brief (SSI-B) as a function of race and ethnicity with 95% confidence intervals.
Fig. 3: Covariate-adjusted marginal means on the Stigmatizing Situations Survey-Brief (SSI-B) as a function of race and sexual orientation with 95% confidence intervals.

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Data availability

The dataset analyzed during the current study along with the analytic code and materials are available in the Open Science Framework:


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This research was funded in part by the Florida State University College of Medicine. The sponsor had no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

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Authors and Affiliations



MAG was responsible for the conception and design with substantial input from ARS and JKM. MAG oversaw data collection, analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript. All authors assisted with interpreting the results and revising the manuscript. All authors approved the final version.

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Correspondence to Mary A. Gerend.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Florida State University. All research involving human subjects was performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Informed consent was obtained from all respondents included in the study.

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Gerend, M.A., Wilkinson, L.J., Sutin, A.R. et al. Sociodemographic predictors of perceived weight discrimination. Int J Obes (2024).

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