attitudes, body weight, China, locus of control, nurses, obesity, social stigma



  1. Wang, Yan
  2. Ding, Ye
  3. Song, Daoping
  4. Zhu, Daqiao
  5. Wang, Jianrong


Background: Obese individuals frequently experience weight-related bias or discrimination-even in healthcare settings. Although obesity bias has been associated with several demographic factors, little is known about the association of weight locus of control with bias against overweight persons or about weight bias among Chinese health professionals.


Objectives: The aim of the study was to examine attitudes toward obese patients in a sample of Chinese registered nurses (RNs) and the relationship between weight bias and nurses' weight locus of control.


Methods: RNs working in nine community health service centers across Shanghai, China, answered three self-report questionnaires: The Attitudes Toward Obese Persons Scale (ATOP), the External Weight Locus of Control Subscale (eWLOC) from the Dieting Belief Scale, and a sociodemographic profile. Hierarchical, stepwise, multiple regression was used to predict ATOP scores.


Results: From among 385 invited, a total of 297 RNs took part in the study (77.1% response rate). Participants scored an average of 71.04 on the ATOP, indicating slightly positive attitudes toward obese persons, and 30.08 on the eWLOC, indicating a belief in the uncontrollability of body weight. Using hierarchical, stepwise, multiple regression, two predictors of ATOP scores were statistically significant (eWLOC scores and status as a specialist rather than generalist nurse), but explained variance was low.


Discussion: Chinese RNs seemed to have relatively neutral or even slightly positive attitudes toward obese persons. Those nurses who believed that obesity was beyond the individual's control or worked in specialties were more likely to have positive attitudes toward obese people. Improved understanding of the comprehensive etiology of obesity is needed.