Integrating Weight Bias Awareness and Mental Health Promotion Into Obesity Prevention Delivery: A Public Health Pilot Study
Published Date:Apr 04 2013
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 10.
Promoting healthy weight is a top priority in Canada. Recent federal guidelines call for sustained, multisectoral partnerships that address childhood obesity on multiple levels. Current healthy weight messaging does not fully acknowledge the influence of social determinants of health on weight.
An interactive workshop was developed and implemented by a team of academic researchers and health promoters from the psychology and public health disciplines to raise awareness about 1) weight bias and its negative effect on health, 2) ways to balance healthy weight messaging to prevent the triggering of weight and shape preoccupation, and 3) the incorporation of mental health promotion into healthy weight messaging. We conducted a full-day workshop with 342 Ontario public health promoters and administered a survey at preintervention, postintervention, and follow-up.
Participation in the full-day workshop led to significant decreases in antifat attitudes and the internalization of media stereotypes and to significant increases in self-efficacy to address weight bias. Participants reported that the training heightened their awareness of their own personal weight biases and the need to broaden their scope of healthy weight promotion to include mental health promotion. There was consensus that additional sessions are warranted to help translate knowledge into action. Buy-in and resource support at the organizational level was also seen as pivotal.
Professional development training in the area of weight bias awareness is associated with decreases in antifat attitudes and the internalization of media stereotypes around thinness. Health promoters’ healthy weight messaging was improved by learning to avoid messages that trigger weight and shape preoccupation or unhealthful eating practices among children and youth. Participants also learned ways to integrate mental health promotion and resiliency-building into daily practice.
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