Rebecca Puhl




Educational Background:
Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Yale University, 2004
M.S., Psychology, Yale University, 2001
B.A.H., Psychology, Queen’s University, 1999


Research Interests:

My research broadly addresses weight-based bullying, bias, and discrimination experienced by children and adults. My work has documented the prevalence and origins of weight bias and discrimination, assessed the pervasiveness and impact of weight stigma in the media, examined the effects of weight bias on emotional and physical health, assessed experiences and health consequences of weight-bullying in youth, tested intervention strategies to reduce weight bias, and studied potential policy and legal remedies to reduce weight discrimination and bullying.

In an effort to address weight bias as both a social justice issue and a public health problem, my research has been harnessed for important translational work that has had both national and international reach on efforts to reduce weight bias in different societal settings. These efforts include the creation of evidence-based educational films to educate health care providers about weight bias, which have been tested and implemented as required training for medical staff in health care facilities and bariatric surgery centers across the country. My research team has also created a media repository resource for use by the popular press to help combat stereotypical and stigmatizing depictions of people with obesity in the media. The repository contains hundreds of images and videos depicting non-stigmatizing portrayals of children and adults with obesity, which have appeared in national and international news outlets, such as TIME magazine, CBS News, and Canada’s National Post. Whenever possible, we also use our research to inform public policy, and evidence from our studies has served as a foundation for expert testimony in state legislative hearings for proposed laws to prohibit weight discrimination.

View more about Dr. Puhl’s work at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.


Selected Publications:

Puhl, R.M., Wall, M.B., Chen, C., Austin, S.B., Eisenberg, M.E., Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2017).   Early experiences of weight teasing and weight-related outcomes in adulthood: A 15-year longitudinal study. Preventive Medicine, 100, 173-179.

Puhl, R.M., Quinn, D.M., Weisz, B.M., Suh, Y.J. (2017). The role of stigma in weight loss maintenance among U.S. adults. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 51, 754-763.

Puhl, R.M., Himmelstein, M.S., Armstrong, S., Kingsfield, E. (2017). Weighing words: Adolescent preferences and reactions to language about body weight. International Journal of Obesity. DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2017.55

Puhl R.M., Suh Y, Li X. (2016). Improving anti-bullying laws and policies to protect youth from weight-based victimization: Parental support for action. Pediatric Obesity, 12, e14- e19.

Puhl, R.M., Suh, Y., Li, X. (2016). Legislating for weight-based equality: National trends in public support for laws to prohibit weight discrimination. International Journal of Obesity, 40, 1320-1324.

Puhl, R.M., Phelan, S., Nadglowski J., Kyle, T. (2016). Overcoming weight bias in the management of patients with diabetes and obesity. Clinical Diabetes, 34, 44-50.

Puhl, R.M., Latner, K.D., O’Brien, K., Luedicke, J.L., Danielstottir, S., Ramos Salas, X. (2015). Potential policies and laws to prohibit weight discrimination: Public views from four countries. Milbank Quarterly, 93, 691-731.

Puhl, R.M., Latner, J.L., O’Brien, K., Luedicke, J.L., Forhan, M., Danielstottir, S. (2015).  Cross-national Perspectives About Weight-Based Bullying in Youth: Nature, Extent, and Remedies. Pediatric Obesity, 4, 241-50.

Puhl, R.M., Latner, J.L., O’Brien, K., Luedicke, J.L., Danielstottir, S., Forhan, M. (2015). A  multi-national examination of weight bias: Predictors of anti-fat attitudes across four  countries. International Journal of Obesity, 39, 1166-73.

Puhl, R.M., Liu, S. (2015). A national survey of public views about the classification of obesity as a disease. Obesity, 23, 1288-1295.

Puhl, R.M., Suh, Y. (2015). Health consequences of weight stigma: Implications for obesity prevention and treatment. Current Obesity Reports, 4, 182-190.

Puhl, R.M., Liu, S. (2015). A national survey of public views about the classification of obesity as a disease. Obesity. Doi: 10.1002/oby.21068

Puhl, R.M., Suh, Y. (2015). Health consequences of weight stigma: Implications for obesity prevention and treatment. Current Obesity Reports. DOI 10.1007/s13679-015-0153-z

 Puhl, R.M., Neumark-Stzainer D., Austin, B., King, K., Luedicke, J. (2014). Setting Policy Priorities to Address Eating Disorders and Weight Bias: Contrasting Views of Eating Disorders Professionals versus the U.S. General Public. BMC Public Health, 14, 524-533. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-14-524.

 Puhl, R.M., Luedicke, J. (2014). Parental support of policy measures and school based efforts to address weight-based victimization in youth. International Journal of Obesity, 38, 531-538.

Puhl, R.M., Grilo, C., Luedicke, J. (2014). Obesity bias in training: Attitudes, beliefs, and observations among advanced trainees in professional health disciplines. Obesity, 22, 1008-15.

Suh, Y., Puhl, R.M., Liu, S., Fleming-Milici, F. (2014). Parental support for policies to reduce weight stigmatization of youth in media and schools. Childhood Obesity, 10(6), 533-541.

Puhl, R.M., Latner, J.L., King, K., Luedicke, J. (2014). Weight bias among professionals who treat eating disorders: Associations with attitudes about treatment and perceptions of patient outcomes. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 47, 65-75.

Puhl, R.M., Luedicke, J., DePierre, J. A. (2013). Parental opinions and concerns about weight-based bullying in youth. Childhood Obesity, 9, 1-9. doi:10.1089/chi.2013.0064 

Puhl, R.M., Peterson, J.L., Luedicke, J. (2013). Public reactions to obesity-related public health campaigns: A randomized trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 45, 36-48.

Puhl, R.M., Peterson, J.L., Luedicke, J. (2013). Motivating or stigmatizing? Public perceptions of language about weight used by health providers. International Journal of Obesity, 37, 612-619. doi:10.1038/ijo.2012.110 

Puhl, R.M., Peterson, J.L., Luedicke, J. (2013). Fighting obesity or obese persons? Public reactions to obesity-related health messages. International Journal of Obesity. 37, 774-782. doi:10.1038/ijo.2012.156

Puhl, R. M., Peterson, J. L., & Luedicke, J. (2013). Weight-based victimization: A comprehensive assessment of weight-loss treatment-seeking youth. Pediatrics 131(1):e1-9. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1106.

Puhl, R.M., & Luedicke, J. (2013). The stigmatizing effect of visual media portrayals of obese persons on anti-fat attitudes: Does race or gender matter? Journal of Health Communication. doi:10.1080/10810730.2012.757393


Selected Recent Invited Presentations:

(2017) Invited Symposia: Internalized Weight Bias: Links with Health and Priorities for Research. Obesity Week, The Obesity Society Annual National Conference, Washington, DC.

(2017) Invited Plenary Speaker: Weight Stigma: Impact on Health and Strategies for Improving Health Care Practices. Society of Nutrition, Education, and Behavior, National Annual Conference. Washington, DC.

(2016) Invited Panelist: Weight-based bullying and Policy Considerations. Harvard University Symposium on LGBT Bullying: Translating Research to Action to Improve Health of All Children, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

(2016) Invited Symposia: Weight-based Victimization: Relationship to Obesity and Eating Disorders. Pediatric Academic Societies, National Conference, Baltimore, MD.

(2016) Invited Symposia: Weight Bias: Implications for Clinical Practice. The Endocrine Society Annual Conference, Boston, MA.

(2015) Keynote speaker: Weight-based Victimization in Youth: A Pervasive Problem with Concerning Health Consequences. Rutgers University, School of Public Health, Annual Conference on Childhood Obesity, Piscataway, NJ.

(2015) Plenary Speaker: Childhood Obesity and Bullying: Nature, Extent, and Strategies to Support Vulnerable Youth. Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Annual Meeting, Little Rock, Arkansas.

(2014) Invited speaker: Effects of Obesity Bias and Stigma on Health. American Society of Nutrition, Annual Conference, National Harbor, MD.

(2014) Invited Symposium: Promoting Obesity-Related Health Awareness While Reducing Weight Stigma. Obesity Week, The Obesity Society Annual National Conference, Boston, MA.

(2014) Keynote speaker: Addressing Obesity Stigma in Health Care: Challenges, Remedies, and Implications for Bariatric Care. American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, Annual National Conference, Boston, MA.

(2014) Invited panel speaker: The Nature and Health Consequences of Obesity Stigma: Implications for Obesity Prevention and Treatment. Institute of Medicine, Roundtable on Obesity Solutions, Washington, DC.

(2014) Invited seminar: The Nature and Impact of Obesity Stigma: Research and Public Health Implications National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD.

(2014) Invited Keynote Address: The Nature and Consequences of Obesity Stigma: Implications for Health Professionals, Educators, and Policy Efforts. University of Hartford, College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, Hartford, CT

(2014) Invited seminar: The Nature, Consequences, and Public Health Implications of Weight Stigma. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA.

(2013). Invited seminar: Weight Bias and Stigmatization: Implications for Research and Public Health Efforts Addressing Obesity. Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

(2013) Invited Plenary speaker: The Pervasive Nature of Weight Stigmatization: Implications for Treatment, Public Health, and Policy. National Eating Disorders Association Conference, Washington, DC.

(2013). Invited panelist: Health Consequences of Weight Stigmatization and the Contribution to Obesity and Eating Disorders. Eating Disorders Coalition Congressional Briefing, Washington, DC.


Selected examples of national media coverage:

The New York Times (August 21, 2017)

Fat Bias Starts Early and Takes a Serious Toll

U.S. News & World Report (August 17, 2017)

6 Strategies for Helping a Teen Who’s Being Bullied about His or Her Weight

U.S. News & World Report (May 25, 2017)

Teasing Teens about Weight May Do Lasting Harm

BBC news (December 1, 2016)

Fat people earn less and have a harder time finding work

The New York Times (October 1, 2016)

The Shame of Fat Shaming

CNN (September 29, 2016)

Weight Bias is a Bigger Problem than You May Think, Experts Say

The New York Times (September 29, 2016)

400-Pound Hacker? Trump Comments Fuel Dialogue on Fat-Shaming

The New York Times (September 25, 2016)

What Obese Patients Should Say to Doctors

The New York Times (June 16, 2016)

Parents Should Avoid Comments on a Child’s Weight

NPR “Here and Now” (December 11, 2015)

Stigma And ‘Fat Shaming’ Can Fuel Depression and Increase Obesity


Selected Professional Activities/Awards:

  • Associate Editor, Stigma & Health (APA) (2015 – present)
  • Editorial Board, Obesity: Science and Practice (Wiley) (2015-present)
  • Recipient of Excellence in Policy Research Award, Eating Disorders Coalition,Washington DC (2013)
  • Recipient of Bias Buster Award, Obesity Action Coalition (2012)
  • Elected Advocacy Councilor, The Obesity Society Council (2009-2012)
  • Chair, Weight Bias Task Force, The Obesity Society, (2005-2013)
  • Board of Directors, Obesity Action Coalition (2010-2014)
  • Fellow, The Obesity Society (2010- present)
  • Guest editor, Supplement Issue in Obesity. “Weight Bias: New Science on a Significant Social Problem” (Volume 16, Supplement 2, November 2008)
  • Recipient of William Kessen Teaching Award, Yale University, Dept. of Psychology (2002)
Rebecca Puhl
Contact Information
Phone860 380 1209
Mailing AddressDepartment of Human Development & Family Studies University of Connecticut 348 Mansfield Road, Unit 1058 Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1058 USA
Office LocationRudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity One Constitution Plaza, Suite 600 Hartford, CT 06103