Changes in perceived mate value and weight bias associated with former obesity status.

Weight bias and discrimination against individuals with obesity are prevalent and persistent, even after weight loss. The purpose of the present study was to determine if ratings of mate value and romantic interest change after learning that an opposite sex target was formerly obese and whether method of weight loss (diet and exercise, bariatric surgery, or diet pills) influenced ratings. Participants were 296 men and 350 women enrolled at a large southeastern university. The participants in the experimental conditions were provided with a vignette of 2 images of a member of the opposite sex: 1 with obesity and the other with a thin physique. Participants were informed of the model’s weight loss method. Two control conditions presented either the thin target or the obese target with no weight loss portion to the vignette. The participants evaluated the mate value, personality traits, and interest in having the target as a friend, girl/boyfriend, or spouse. The thin target with no weight loss history was rated more favorably than the overweight target with no weight loss history. However, when male participants learned that the thin female target was previously heavy, they then rated her less favorably regardless of weight loss method. In contrast, women viewed the previously obese male target who lost weight via diet and exercise more favorably and viewed men that lost weight with diet pills less favorably than men that lost weight via bariatric surgery. The negative views of individuals who were formerly obese appear to extend to mate selection. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)