Weight and Body Image Perceptions in Nutrition and Dietetics University Students

  • Lisa Herzig Fresno State University
  • Jamie Levitt Fresno State University
  • Kaitlynn Watson Fresno State University
  • Gretchen L. George San Francisco State University


Stereotypical and prejudicial attitudes towards people considered overweight or obese are documented in professionals ranging from physicians, nurses, fitness and general nutrition professionals, and registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) and may introduce barriers to equitable care. To identify the prevalence of anti-fat attitudes (AFA); fat phobia (FPS); and body appreciation scores (BA) in nutrition and dietetics’ students (ND) and non-nutrition and dietetics’ students (NND) through a cross-sectional design. During 2018, students (n=297) from two California State Universities completed a survey including three validated instruments. Additionally, height, weight, and waist circumference were collected using NHANES procedures. A series of ANCOVA’s and correlation coefficients were computed. Significant differences existed in BA between ND (M=3.61, SD=0.66) and NND students (M=3.81, SD=0.70); t(288) = 2.49, p=0.013. Scores indicated existing anti-fat attitudes and fat phobia. Significant positive correlations existed between FPS and anthropometrics. Weight related perceptions were identified. A need exists for a fundamental evidence-based training specifically focused on knowledge and awareness related to health metrics and social justice pedagogy to help RDN work unbiasedly with patients of all shapes.

How to Cite
Herzig, L., Levitt, J., Watson, K., & George, G. L. (2021). Weight and Body Image Perceptions in Nutrition and Dietetics University Students . Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 19(1), 64-75. https://doi.org/10.32398/cjhp.v19i1.2651