Weight stigma as biopedagogy: The experiences of fat students in accredited, undergraduate, dietetic education programs in Canada

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Bessey, Meredith
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Weight management has long been a focus of dietetic practice. Some have argued that thinness is a hallmark of dietitians’ professionalism and expertise. Dietetic students and practicing dietitians have been found to hold stigmatizing beliefs about fat individuals. Research indicates that dietetic students often feel pressure to be thin and are at significant risk of disordered eating and eating disorders. In addition, research shows that post-secondary students face various forms of weight bias, not exclusively in dietetic programs. Hence, it is likely that fat dietetic students are subject to weight bias within their educational environments, which may be intensified by the weight biased attitudes that exist in the profession generally. However, the experiences of fat students of their education has yet to be explored in the dietetic context. My research explores the experiences of fat students who are, or were previously, enrolled in accredited, undergraduate, dietitian education programs in Canada. Specifically, I explored students’ experiences of their dietetic education with particular attention to curriculum, faculty interactions, and physical environment, as well as how the dominant messages around weight in dietetics influences fat students’ perceptions of their body and health.
Weight stigma, weight management, dietetic students,