Comparing Levels of Anti-Fat Bias Between American and Mexican Athletes and Undergraduate Physical Education and Exercise Science Students


  • Miriam Wood Alameda University of North Dakota
  • James Whitehead University of North Dakota



anti-fat bias, mexican and american students, anti-fat, bias, physical educators, exercise science, athletes, explicit bias, implicit bias, social desirable responding


Stigmatization consequent to anti-fat bias (AFB) may affect the services people who are obese receive from health professionals, including physical education and exercise science (PEX) professionals. In this study, we compared AFB levels of American and Mexican PEX students and Mexican athletes. We also investigated if socially desirable (SD) response tendencies threaten the validity of the explicit AFB measure used in this study. Participants (N = 118) completed measures of explicit and implicit AFB. Explicit AFB scores were not different between groups, but there were some subsample differences and interactions on the implicit AFB measure. Most implicit AFB subsample scores were significantly different from 0, indicating the participants were, to some extent, implicitly biased against fat people. The correlations between SD scales and the explicit AFB scales indicated no substantive threat to the validity of those scales. These results indicate AFB may be an issue with future PEX professionals, and thus, further research on incidence levels and prevention strategies is warranted. Also, because explicit and implicit AFB scores were not significantly correlated, researchers should investigate whether implicit bias affects an individual’s explicit bias.

Author Biographies

Miriam Wood Alameda, University of North Dakota

Earned a M.S. in Kinesiology from the University of North Dakota. In the present, I am pursuing a doctoral degree (Ph. D.) in Teaching and Learning with an emphasis in higher education at the University of North Dakota.

James Whitehead, University of North Dakota

Professor and graduate coordinator of the Kinesiology and Public Health Education at the University of North Dakota. Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and a Fellow of the Research Consortium of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance