Article Correctness Is Author's Responsibility: Obesity as a disease: Effects on weight-biased attitudes and beliefs.

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In June 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) released the controversial decision to designate obesity a disease. Proponents predicted the decision would lead to reduced weight-related bias, whereas opponents predicted designating a third of the population as "diseased” would exacerbate bias. To determine the effects of defining obesity as a disease on explicit and implicit weight-biased attitudes and beliefs about the controllability of weight, female undergraduate students (N = 146) were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups: disease or lifestyle. Participants in the disease group (n = 71) read an article describing obesity as a disease caused by biology and genes; participants in the lifestyle group (n = 75) read an article describing obesity as the result of personal choices, including overconsumption of food and inactivity. Explicit weight-biased attitudes and beliefs about the controllability of weight were measured pre- and postexposure to the article. Postexposure beliefs about the controllability of weight were examined as a potential mediator of the relationship between group and explicit weight-biased attitudes; and body mass index (BMI) was examined as a potential moderator. Results revealed a significant interaction between group and time on beliefs about the controllability of weight. Participants in the disease group exhibited stronger beliefs that obesity is outside a person's control from pre- to postexposure, whereas participants in the lifestyle group exhibited a weakening in these beliefs over the same time period. Consistent with the obesity stigma asymmetry model (Hoyt, Burnette, Auster-Gussman, Blodorn, & Major, 2016), there was no significant total effect of group on explicit weight-biased attitudes, despite significant mediation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)