Attitudes to obesity among rehabilitation health professionals in Australia

Frances M. Wise, Darren W. Harris, John H. Olver

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14 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Negative attitudes toward obese individuals can affect the quality of healthcare and health outcomes. This study examined the attitudes and beliefs of rehabilitation health professionals in Victoria, Australia, toward obesity. Additionally, potential predictors of anti-fat attitudes (or "fat phobia") were explored. METHODS: A cross-sectional, anonymous, self-report survey of rehabilitation health professionals employed in public and private health sectors was performed. Measures included demographic information, attitudes toward obesity, beliefs regarding causes of obesity, and levels of empathy, with associations between variables examined. RESULTS: The cohort demonstrated average levels of fat phobia (3.5 ± SD 0.46), with 4% of respondents exhibiting high levels of anti-fat attitudes. Younger respondents had significantly higher levels of fat phobia than did older staff (p<0.001). Sex, empathy levels, and type of professional or clinical practice area did not correlate with attitudes. Fat phobia was predicted by respondent age and beliefs about causes of obesity, with 20% of variance in attitudes being accounted for. CONCLUSION: Rehabilitation health professionals demonstrate average levels of negative attitudes to obese individuals. Fat phobia is predicted by causal beliefs and the health professional's age. These findings may guide education of health professionals regarding the nature and causes of obesity, in order to improve patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-168
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Allied Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

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