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Weight bias among exercise and nutrition professionals: a systematic review

03 Sep 2018


Obesity affects approximately one‐third of American adults. Recent evidence suggests that weight bias may be pervasive among both exercise and nutrition professionals working with adults who have obesity. However, the published literature on this topic is limited. This review aimed to (i) systematically review existing literature examining weight bias among exercise and nutrition professionals; (ii) discuss the implications of this evidence for exercise and nutrition professionals and their clients; (iii) address gaps and limitations of this literature; and (iv) identify future research directions. Of the 31 studies that met the criteria for this review, 20 examined weight bias among exercise professionals, of which 17 (85%) found evidence of weight bias among professionals practicing physical therapy (n = 4), physical education (n = 8) and personal/group fitness training (n = 5). Of 11 studies examining weight bias among nutrition professionals, eight (73%) found evidence of weight bias. These findings demonstrate fairly consistent evidence of weight bias among exercise and nutrition professionals. However, the majority of studies were cross‐sectional (90%). Given that weight bias may compromise quality of care and potentially reinforce weight gain and associated negative health consequences in patients with obesity, it is imperative for future work to examine the causes and consequences of weight bias within exercise and nutrition professions using more rigorous study designs.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Obesity Reviews