Date of Completion


Embargo Period


Major Advisor

Amy A. Gorin, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Dean G. Cruess, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Rebecca M. Puhl, Ph.D.

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Individuals with overweight and obesity are highly stigmatized and face multiple forms of discrimination because of their weight, which leads to both psychological and physical health costs to the individual, above and beyond the effects of excessive weight itself. Developing a greater understanding of the mechanisms that may serve to interrupt or exacerbate the cycle of weight stigma and obesity is warranted. The current study sought to examine the influence of experienced spousal weight stigma (SWS), internalized weight stigma, and coping strategies used in response to SWS on longitudinal weight loss, and determine if internalized weight stigma and/or coping strategies used in response to SWS mediate the relationship between experienced SWS and percent weight loss. The primary study, from which the current study was conducted, required participants to be living with a romantic partner, both of whom had to be of at least overweight status. Participants (N=128) had their height and weight objectively measured at baseline and follow-up 6-months later; they also completed demographic and weight stigma and coping questionnaires at baseline. Overall, 89% of participants endorsed experiencing SWS. Baseline measures of experienced SWS, internalized weight stigma, and maladaptive coping with SWS significantly contributed to the variance in percent weight loss. The mediation model explained 29% of the variance in percent weight loss; both internalized weight stigma and engaging in maladaptive coping strategies in response to SWS were significant mediators of the relationship between experienced SWS and percent weight loss. These findings support the importance of assessing and addressing these variables in the design and implementation of future weight loss interventions. Including these variables as potential predictors and/or mediators of initial and sustained weight loss success may increase the variance accounted for by treatment studies, thus clarifying our understanding of the critical mechanisms of influence on weight outcomes and informing potential targets for clinical intervention.