Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Jon Holtzman

Second Advisor

Dr. Vincent Lyon-Callo

Third Advisor

Dr. Britt Hartenberger


Obesity, weight loss surgery, anthropology, PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, gastric bypass

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Obesity in the United States is unprecedented levels, affecting adults and children as well. As our society has become for sedentary since industrialization, the nation has become fatter. The escalating rate of obesity has had a negative effect on the health of millions of Americans. Health problems such as metabolic disorders and other comorbidities, for instance, hypertension, Type II diabetes, heart disease, weight related cancers etc., (Mozaffarian and Benjamin 2013). The collective cost of obesity is to the nation is staggering, weighing in at $270 billion a year, childhood obesity costs nearly $15 billion alone (Hammond and Levine 2010). This increase in the obesity in the country also has another less obvious effect, the increase in weight-based discrimination and overt fat-bias. A number of qualitative interviews were conducted in addition an autoethnographic perspective of the authors personal journey growing up as a fat kid in America and the life events that him to choose weight loss surgery. Specific attention was paid to the emergence of identity themes and how they were reclaimed and created by those that identified as early-onset and those that identified as late-onset. The goal of this research study was to answer the questions of how persons who have undergone WLS conceptualize their identities and interpret their experiences with fat-bias both before and after surgery.