Grant to support Abington professor’s research on weight bias

Abington faculty

Diane Rosenbaum is an assistant professor of psychology at Penn State Abington.

Credit: Penn State

ABINGTON, Pa. — The American Association of University Women awarded Diane Rosenbaum, assistant professor of psychology at Penn State Abington, a highly selective $6,000 American Short-Term Research Publication Grant to support her explorations on weight bias.  

Rosenbaum explained that weigh bias refers to negative attitudes toward higher weight and can be evidenced through the perpetuation of stereotypes and stigmatizing behaviors such as hurtful comments, weight-related bullying, and discrimination. 

“Internalization of weight bias, particularly among women, is a key risk factor for mental health challenges including eating disorder symptoms, depression, and negative body image,” she said. 

Rosenbaum’s work has focused on the psychological factors related to eating and weight concerns. Her research specialty is behavioral medicine, which examines the interaction of behavioral, emotional, and cognitive factors in relation to health and well-being.  

“We are really falling short in understanding the experiences of larger-bodied individuals. People don’t understand more than how much you eat affects your weight, and the general public doesn’t appreciate it when making snap judgements about people,” she said. 

Recently, Rosenbaum was the first author on an article published in the journal Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity that evaluated the relationship between sexual minority status, weight-related teasing, weight bias internalization, and binge eating symptoms.

Her other research interests explore peripartum factors related to breast feeding behaviors, eating disorder symptoms across several different areas, women’s health issues, and the use of technology to promote evidence-based clinical practices. 

Her upcoming projects include examining whether high quality romantic relationships buffer against societal messages about weight and collaborations with Abington colleague Meghan Gillen, associate professor of psychology, on pregnancy and body image. 

We are really falling short in understanding the experiences of larger-bodied individuals. People don’t understand more than how much you eat affects your weight, and the general public doesn’t appreciate it when making snap judgements about people."

—Diane Rosenbaum , assistant professor of psychology

Rosenbaum weaves her research into her interactions with students at Abington, where she teaches Introduction to Well-being, Positive Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology. 

"In Abnormal Psychology, I discuss eating disorders and the impact of weight bias and social interactions. When I talk about weight and eating in Abnormal Psychology, I use evidence from different articles to present the topic in terms of its relationship to eating disorders,” she said. 

Rosenbaum has also served as a faculty mentor to students involved in the campus’ flourishing undergraduate research program, ACURA. During one three-semester long project, the student examined the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and the perceived weight of family members and its correlation to depression and anxiety symptoms. 

“I love interacting with the students and appreciate the ability to communicate information to them that might change the way they think. l learn from them, too, and they bring different experiences into the classroom. It makes the material come alive,” she said.

Rosenbaum earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Boston University before moving to the University of Missouri – St. Louis to study for her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship training at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and a postdoctoral fellowship at Drexel University in eating disorders and obesity research. Rosenbaum was an instructor with the Beck Community Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, and she is a licensed clinical psychologist in Pennsylvania. 

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 24 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics and more.