Changes in Weight Bias and Perceived Employability Following Weight Loss and Gain



The present weight stigma study examined whether attitudes toward and employability of a normal weight person can change after learning that the person had been obese.


Participants (N = 154) viewed an image of a normal weight woman and rated their impression of her. Next, participants rated their impression of her overweight image after learning how she had previously gained and subsequently lost weight.


Participants rated the model far less favorably including perceived employability if they thought the once overweight model lost weight through surgery vs. diet and exercise. How the model initially gained the weight had little impact on participant ratings.


Surgical weight loss had a significant impact on personality judgments. These negative views extended to hiring decisions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Livingston EH. The incidence of bariatric surgery has plateaued in the US. Am J Surg. 2010;200:378–85.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Buchwald H, Avidor Y, Braunwald E, et al. Bariatric surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Med Assoc. 2008;292(14):1724–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Elfhag K, Rossner S. Who succeeds in maintaining weight loss? A conceptual review of factors associated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain. Obes Rev. 2005;6:67–85.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Vartanian LB, Fardouly J. The stigma of obesity surgery: negative evaluations based on weight loss history. Obes Surg. 2013;23:1545–50.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Fardouly J, Vartanian LB. Changes in weight bias following weight loss: the impact of weight loss method. Int J Obes. 2012;36:314–9.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Mattingly BA, Shambush MA, Hill AE. Shedding the pounds but not the stigma: negative attributions as a function of a target's method of weight loss. J Appl Biobehav Res. 2009;14(3):128–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Puhl RM, Heuer CA. The stigma of obesity: a review and update. Obesity. 2009;17(5):1–24.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Crandall CS. Prejudice against fat people: ideology and self-interest. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1994;66(5):882–94.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Statement of Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Statement of Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robert A. Carels.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Carels, R.A., Rossi, J., Borushok, J. et al. Changes in Weight Bias and Perceived Employability Following Weight Loss and Gain. OBES SURG 25, 568–570 (2015).

Download citation


  • Obesity
  • Stigma
  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Obesity surgery
  • Diet and exercise