Clinical Correlates of the Weight Bias Internalization Scale in a Sample of Obese Adolescents Seeking Bariatric Surgery

Roberto, Christina A.; Sysko, Robyn; Bush, Jennifer; Pearl, Rebecca; Puhl, Rebecca M.; Schvey, Natasha A.; Dovidio, John F.
March 2012
Obesity (19307381);Mar2012, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p533
Academic Journal
The aim of this study was to evaluate psychometric properties and clinical correlates of the Weight Bias Internalization Scale (WBIS) in a sample of obese adolescents seeking bariatric surgery. Sixty five adolescents enrolled in a bariatric surgery program at a large, urban medical center completed psychiatric evaluations, self-report questionnaires including the WBIS and other measures of psychopathology and physical assessments. The WBIS had high internal consistency (Cronbach's α = 0.92). As in previous research with adults, the one underlying factor structure was replicated and 10 of the original 11 items were retained. The scale had significant partial correlations with depression (r = 0.19), anxiety (r = 0.465), social, and behavioral problems (r = 0.364), quality of life (r = −0.480), and eating (r = 0.579), shape (r = 0.815), and weight concerns (r = 0.545), controlling for BMI. However, WBIS scores did not predict current or past psychiatric diagnosis or treatment or past suicidal ideation. Overall, the WBIS had excellent psychometric properties in a sample of obese treatment-seeking adolescents and correlated significantly with levels of psychopathology. These findings suggest that the WBIS could be a useful tool for healthcare providers to assess internalized weight bias among treatment-seeking obese youth. Assessment of internalized weight bias among this clinical population has the potential to identify adolescents who might benefit from information on coping with weight stigma, which in turn may augment weight loss efforts.


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