Motivated, fit, and strong: changing fitness-fatness associations to increase physical activity in individuals with obesity

  • M. Myre
  • T. Berry


Background: Regularly engaging in physical activity (PA) is related to health benefits regardless of body size. Yet, individuals with obesity frequently experience weight stigma, which can lead to PA avoidance when internalized. This study will determine if evaluative conditioning (EC) using positive images of persons with obesity increases PA in individuals living with obesity (primary outcome), and affects implicit and explicit attitudes about PA and internalized weight stigma (secondary outcomes). Methods: Sixty adults that self-identify as living with obesity will be randomly assigned to an experimental or control group, each completing four online sessions one week apart. The experimental group will complete EC tasks to retrain automatic fitness-fatness associations. The control group will read Canada’s PA Guidelines and complete PA goal-setting tasks. PA attitudes, internalized weight stigma, and PA behaviour will be measured pre-test, post-test, and at one-week follow-up. Multivariate analysis of variance will be used to determine between-group differences. Expected results: It is hypothesized that participants in the EC group will have increased PA, and that implicit and explicit PA attitudes, and internalized weight stigma will mediate the relationship between the intervention and PA. Current stage: Ethical approval has been obtained and data collection will begin in March 2017. Discussion: The results of this study could demonstrate a way to reduce internalized weight stigma and increase PA in persons with obesity, a typically inactive population. Media and health promotion practitioners may choose to portray individuals with obesity in a non-stereotypical/positive way to promote PA to persons at every size.
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