Background

Discrimination-related stress is associated with depressive symptoms among Latina women. One’s perception of their weight status (PWS) has also been shown to be positively associated with depressive symptoms, but more research is needed. Holding two marginalized identities – based on race/ethnicity and weight status (objective or perceived) – may exponentially increase Latina’s risk for depressive symptoms. The purpose of this study is to examine the association between discrimination stress, PWS, and depressive symptoms in Latina women. PWS was also examined as a potential moderator.

Methods

Participants were a nationally representative sample of 467 Latina women (M age = 40.5±15.3y). They completed an online survey, which assessed demographic factors, BMI (from self-reported height and weight; 22.9% overweight, 36.4% obese), discrimination-related stress, PWS (15.6% skinny, 34% average weight, 32% slightly overweight, 18% overweight), and depressive symptoms.

Results

After adjusting for ethnicity, insurance access, acculturation, education, income, and BMI, discrimination-related stress was significantly and positively associated with depressive symptoms (β=2.404, p<.001). PWS did not moderate this association. However, PWS was significantly associated with depressive symptoms; feeling overweight was associated with significantly higher depressive symptoms (β=2.14, p<.05) when compared to those who felt skinny, average weight, or slightly overweight.

Conclusions

Among Latina women, stress associated with racial discrimination and feeling overweight are both independent factors associated with depression. These associations were significant even after considering the link between BMIand depressive symptoms, highlighting the need to attend to Latina women’s perception of their body size when developing mental and physical health interventions for this population.