Rebecca M. Puhl, PhD
Dr. Rebecca Puhl is the Deputy Director at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University where she is also a Senior Research Scientist. Dr. Puhl is responsible for identifying and coordinating research and policy efforts aimed at reducing weight bias.
Dr. Puhl received her BA in psychology from Queen's University in Ontario, and her MS and PhD in Clinical Psychology from Yale University. Her clinical training at the Yale Center for Eating & Weight Disorders emphasized treating patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and obesity. She completed her clinical internship in Clinical Health Psychology at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System before gaining additional postdoctoral experience at Johns Hopkins.
Dr. Puhl has been studying weight bias for over a decade, and has published a range of experimental studies, population-based studies, review papers, and chapters on this topic. Her recent publications address the prevalence and origins of weight stigma, interventions to reduce weight bias, and the impact of weight stigma on emotional and physical health. She has presented on these topics to academic, professional, and community groups across the country, and her research has received national and international media attention. Dr. Puhl serves on the Council of The Obesity Society, and is an editor of the book Weight Bias: Nature, Extent, and Remedies (Guilford Press, 2005). She also served as guest editor for a supplement issue in the journal Obesity, entitled "Weight Bias: New Science on a Significant Social Problem".
View Dr. Puhl's current initiatives on weight bias at the Rudd Center.
Contact: (203) 432-7354; firstname.lastname@example.org
Obesity Stigma: a Failed and Ethically Dubious Strategy
Research shows that when individuals are stigmatized about their weight (e.g., being teased, bullied, treated unfairly, or discriminated against), that this leads to numerous inequities in many different settings, including the workplace, schools, health care facilities, the media, and in interpersonal relationships.
DugDug, January 1
Fat shaming' actually increases risk of becoming or staying obese, new study says
Making overweight or obese people feel bad about their bodies doesn’t do anything to motivate them to lose weight – actually, a new study finds it does just the opposite.
NBC News, July 2013
Could You Have A Hidden Eating Disorder?
The epidemic of disordered eating and our unhealthy relationship with food. Why do we obsess about what we eat, how much we exercise and how we look?
The Katie Couric Show, May 2013
When the Doctor is Overweight
Dr. George Fielding, a pioneer of weight loss surgery in Australia, remembers how patients treated him in the late 1990s, when his weight reached 330 pounds on his six-foot frame. He would meet new patients, dressed in Armani suits and feeling on top of the world, and then be abruptly upended.
The New York, May 2013
Samoa Air Prices Tickets Based on Passengers’ Weight
Samoa Air recently announced that it will start charging people for airline tickets based on their weight. Experts question whether the policy fosters discrimination against overweight and obese individuals.
The Washington Post, April 2013
Puhl RM, Latner JD, King KM, Luedicke J. Weight bias among professionals treating eating disorders: Attitudes about treatment and perceived patient outcomes. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2013 Sep:1-11.
Puhl RM, Luedicke J, Peterson JL. Public Reactions to Obesity-Related Health Campaigns. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013 July;46(1):36-48.
Pomeranz JL, Puhl RM. New developments in the law for obesity discrimination protection. Obesity. 2013 Mar;21(3):469-471.
Puhl RM, Gold JA, Luedicke J, DePierre JA. The effect of physicians’ body weight on patient attitudes: Implications for physician selection, trust and adherence to medical advice. International Journal of Obesity. 2013 Mar;1:1-7.
Puhl RM, Peterson JL, DePierre JA, Luedicke J. Headless, hungry, and unhealthy: A video content analysis of obese persons portrayed in online news. Journal of Health Communication. 2013 Feb:1-17.
DePierre JA, Puhl RM, Luedicke J. A new stigmatized identity? Comparisons of a “food addict" label with other stigmatized health conditions. Basic and Applied Social Psychology. 2013 Feb;1:10-21.
Schvey NA, Puhl RM, Levandoski KA, Brownell KD. The influence of a defendant’s body weight on perceptions of guilt. International Journal of Obesity. 2013 Jan;1:1-7.
Puhl RM, Peterson JL, Luedicke J. Weight-based victimization: Bullying experiences of weight loss treatment–seeking youth. Pediatrics. 2013 Jan;1:e1-e9.
Puhl RM, Peterson JL, Luedicke J. Strategies to address weight-based victimization: Youths’ preferred support interventions from classmates, teachers, and parents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 2012 Nov:1-13.
Puhl RM, Peterson JL, Luedicke J. Fighting obesity or obese persons? Public perceptions of obesity-related health messages. International Journal of Obesity. 2012 Sep:1-9.
9/5/13: Mental health professionals treating eating disorders are not immune to weight bias
Some mental health practitioners who treat patients with eating disorders may have their own weight biases that could negatively affect their patients, according to a study by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. Although previous research has documented weight bias among other healthcare providers, this is the first to examine it specifically among mental health specialists. The study is published online in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.
3/19/13: Overweight physicians are also vulnerable to weight bias
Overweight patients are not the only ones who suffer weight stigmatization in the doctor’s office, a Yale study finds. Physicians who are overweight or obese are vulnerable to biased attitudes from patients which could interfere with quality of care, according to a study by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. The findings, published in the International Journal of Obesity, show that a provider’s excess weight negatively affects patients’ perceptions of his or her credibility, level of trust, and inclination to follow medical advice.
2/18/13: New video gallery helps broadcast media promote unbiased coverage of obesity
The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity has launched a new, free resource to aid members of broadcast media in the creation and delivery of fair, unbiased video coverage of obesity and weight-related topics on television, video, and online.
2/5/13: Are ‘food addicts’ stigmatized?
In the first studies to examine what the public thinks about people with an addiction to food, researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale found that while this addiction is less vulnerable to public stigma than others, it could increase the stigma already associated with obesity. The studies are published online in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology.
1/8/13: Body weight and gender influence judgment in the courtroom
In a study that offers insight into the depth of stigmatization of overweight and obese people, researchers at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity found that weight stigma extends to the courtroom. Published online in the International Journal of Obesity, the study shows that a defendant’s body weight and gender impact jurors’ perceptions of guilt and responsibility.