Client perceptions of weight stigma among eating disorder professionals
Weight stigma affects increasing numbers of individuals in the United States, especially as rates of obesity continue to rise. Clients with binge eating disorder, many of whom can be considered overweight or obese, are especially stigmatized due to both their weight and binging behaviors. The harmful effects of weight stigma are well documented. This study explored client perceptions regarding weight stigma among the eating disorder professionals from whom they received or are receiving treatment. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to not only gain an increased understanding of this issue, but also to assess clients' perceptions of its impact on treatment and quality of care. This study includes detailed descriptions of ten participants' experiences with eating disorder professional weight stigma obtained from in-depth interviews. A thematic data analysis resulted in individual and group syntheses of the phenomenon. Themes include the inescapable pain of general weight stigma, perceptions that eating disorder professionals marginalize struggles and lack knowledge regarding weight stigma and binge eating disorder, various levels of impact of eating disorder professional weight stigma on clients, and implications for eating disorder professionals.