Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Mary E. Evans, Ph.D.


Teasing, Weight, Self-esteem, Depression, Body dissatisfaction


Overweight and obesity are important public health issues in the United States with more than 60% of US adults overweight or obese. The social consequences of being overweight and obese are serious and pervasive. Individuals who are overweight and obese are often the targets of bias and stigma and thus susceptible to negative attitudes. Obesity and weight stigma have been linked to low self-esteem, higher rates of depressive symptoms, body dissatisfaction and poor psychological adjustment. Although weight stigma is a problem in the general population, it is more consequential among adolescents due to mental and physical developmental changes. Therefore college students were used in this study because they are considered older adolescent (ages 18-21). The goals of this study were to examine the association between weight status, weight stigma, self-esteem, body dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms.

These associations were examined using multiple linear regression and linear meditational analysis. This study found (1) that overweight and obese individuals experience more stigma than their normal weight and underweight counterparts, (2) weight stigma has a negative effect on body dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms among overweight and obese individuals, (3) self-esteem differed based on perceived weight status, and (4) weight stigma differed among overweight and obese individuals based on self-esteem. Overall, the psychosocial outcomes of weight stigma are greater for individuals at higher levels of weight. It was found that state self-esteem strongly mediated the relationship between weight and stigma in the prediction of depressive symptoms and body dissatisfaction with the greatest impact for depressive symptoms.

Low self-esteem and social support reveal that individuals with low self-esteem experience greater negative psychosocial outcomes as well as those with little or no support unable to buffer stigmatizing experiences and have greater negative psychosocial outcomes. In general, the consequences of weight stigma are as real as the medical consequences of obesity. We are called to protect the psychosocial health of college students.