ORIGINAL PAPER
Understanding the relationship between family communication and the development of weight stigma
 
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1
Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, USA
2
University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA
Submission date: 2015-12-15
Final revision date: 2016-02-01
Acceptance date: 2016-02-01
Online publication date: 2016-02-08
Publication date: 2016-02-22
 
Health Psychology Report 2016;4(3):213–223
 
KEYWORDS
TOPICS
ABSTRACT
Background
This study examined the relationship between family communication and weight stigma. The Family Communication Patterns Theory was used as a framework to explain the relationships between two dimensions of family communication (i.e., conversation orientation and conformity orientation) and antifat attitudes (i.e., physical unattractiveness and weight blame).

Participants and procedure
A total of 585 college-aged participants completed an on-line questionnaire. We used the following instruments: body mass index (BMI), Antifat Attitudes Scale (AFAT), Revised Family Communication Patterns Scale (RFCP).

Results
Significant relationships were found between the two dimensions of family communication and antifat attitudes. Conversation orientation was negatively associated with antifat attitudes and conformity orientation was positively associated with antifat attitudes. In addition, pluralistic families were less likely to stigmatize the overweight and obese by demonstrating less discrimination with physical attraction and personal weight blame.

Conclusions
These findings highlight the important association between family communication and antifat attitudes. Families that endorse a pluralistic family type (i.e., high conversation orientation and low conformity orientation) appear to engage in the least amount of discrimination with regard to weight stigma. These families are not only less discriminating of others, they perhaps bring about more awareness and information to family members as compared to other family types.
 
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