Experiences of weight stigma in adolescents with severe obesity and their families

Karyn J. Roberts, Michele L. Polfuss, Emma C. Marston, Renée L. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Aim: To describe the experiences of weight stigma in adolescents with severe obesity and their parents. Design: Qualitative descriptive secondary analysis. Methods: A secondary analysis on 31 transcripts from a larger study of 46 transcripts conducted between February 2019 and June 2020. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 parents (n = 17 mothers, n = 2 fathers) and 12 adolescents (n = 7 male, n = 5 female). Interviews were digitally audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using conventional content analysis. Results: Four common themes were identified reflecting experiences of weight stigma: weight-based teasing and bullying, interactions with healthcare providers (HCPs), family interactions and blame. Subthemes were fairness and impact on mental health. Conclusion: This secondary analysis adds to the sparse literature documenting the experiences of weight stigma from adolescents with severe obesity and their families. It is important to understand the experiences of weight stigma from the adolescent and parent perspective as it can inform healthcare, education and policies across communities and facilitate holistic health for this vulnerable population. Impact: The need for research to better understand how experiences of weight stigma correlate with physiological and psychological outcomes and inform innovative interventions are critical to improve treatment of severe obesity. Healthcare providers across disciplines are in a strategic position to change the paradigm through which we provide care to youth with severe obesity and guide families in supporting their children's weight management efforts without contributing to weight stigma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4184-4194
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescent health
  • experiences
  • family care
  • nursing
  • obesity
  • parents
  • qualitative analysis
  • stigma
  • weight


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