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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2014, Article ID 267286, 9 pages
Review Article

The Contribution of Applied Social Sciences to Obesity Stigma-Related Public Health Approaches

Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, S113-750 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 0W3

Received 21 November 2013; Revised 14 February 2014; Accepted 23 February 2014; Published 24 March 2014

Academic Editor: Rachel Annunziato

Copyright © 2014 Andrea E. Bombak. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Obesity is viewed as a major public health concern, and obesity stigma is pervasive. Such marginalization renders obese persons a “special population.” Weight bias arises in part due to popular sources’ attribution of obesity causation to individual lifestyle factors. This may not accurately reflect the experiences of obese individuals or their perspectives on health and quality of life. A powerful role may exist for applied social scientists, such as anthropologists or sociologists, in exploring the lived and embodied experiences of this largely discredited population. This novel research may aid in public health intervention planning. Through these studies, applied social scientists could help develop a nonstigmatizing, salutogenic approach to public health that accurately reflects the health priorities of all individuals. Such an approach would call upon applied social science’s strengths in investigating the mundane, problematizing the “taken for granted” and developing emic (insiders’) understandings of marginalized populations.