Prejudice and the plate: Effects of weight bias in nutrition judgments
As millions of people turn to social media for health information, better understanding the factors that guide health-related judgments and perceptions in this context is imperative. We report on two Web experiments (n > 400 total) examining the power of society's widespread weight bias and related stereotypes to influence nutrition judgments in social media spaces. In Experiment 1, meals were judged as lower in nutritional quality when the person who recommended them (the source) was depicted as obese rather than of normal weight, an effect mediated by stereotypic beliefs about the source as a generally unhealthy person. Experiment 2 replicated this effect, whichnotablyremained significant when controlling for objective nutritional information (calories and fat content). Results highlight spillover effects of weight bias that extend beyond person perception to color impressions of objects (here, food) that are associated with stigmatized attributes. Implications for everyday nutrition judgments and public health are considered.