Social stigma and self-esteem as mediators of the relationship between Body Mass Index and Internet addiction disorder. An exploratory study

  • Ambra Gentile
  • Rocco ServidioEmail author
  • Barbara Caci
  • Stefano Boca


The present study aimed at investigating the mediational effects of social stigma and self-esteem on the relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) and Internet addiction disorder. A total of 413 participants aged between 18 and 26 years old (M = 20.94 SD = 2.95) were assessed with self-report standardized questionnaires exploring self-esteem (i.e. Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale - RSES), Internet addiction (i.e. Young Internet Addiction Test- YIAT), and social-stigma (i.e. Perception of Teasing Scale - POT), and with objective measures related to BMI. Results showed a partial direct association between BMI and Internet addiction. Specifically, our mediation model revealed a good fit to data showing that BMI is a directly significant predictor of Internet addiction (β = .10) and social stigma (β = .27). Social stigma, in turn, predicts self-esteem (β = −.19) and Internet addiction (β = .12). Furthermore, self-esteem predicts Internet addiction. In conclusion, the results of the present study suggest that people who are stigmatized for being overweight exhibit low levels of perceived self-esteem, and increase, in turn, their perceived levels of Internet addiction.


Body Mass Index Social stigma Self-esteem Internet addiction 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Author A declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Author B declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

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.

Informed Consent

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


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological, Educational and Training SciencesUniversity of PalermoPalermoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Cultures, Education and SocietyUniversity of CalabriaArcavacata di RendeItaly

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