My name is Alexa and I am an Obesity Canada Student and New Professional member doing my PhD. I am doing a study about weight bias experiences of young people with overweight/obesity. Weight bias is when people are treated differently because of their body size. I want to better understand how weight bias happens, so that we can find effective ways to reduce it. I am looking for young people (aged 13-18) interested in doing interviews with me, to talk about what it has been like to grow up in bodies labelled as ‘overweight’.

Below you will find more details about the study. I am happy to answer any questions you or your teen may have. I can be contacted by email ( or phone (403-594-3552). You are also welcome to share this information with other teens (or parents of teens) who may be interested in this study.



Young people who are labelled as overweight sometimes experience judgement or negative treatment from others because of their weight. An example might be someone being teased about their size, or not getting picked to be on the team in gym class. When things like this happen to a person over and over again, it can affect how they feel about their life and make them feel sad, lonely, or frustrated. Not much research about this problem has been done yet to include the voices of young people. We believe that this is an issue. This is why we have designed this study to involve young people, like you. We know that young people have an important role to play in helping us find ways to improve the well-being of young people living in larger bodies.

By being part of this study you will be able to share your experiences of what it has been like to grow up in your body over the years. This will help us better understand how people come to treat people differently because of body size, and what can be done to change this. This study will only include young people aged 13-18 in Edmonton, St. Albert, and Sherwood Park. But, what we learn about in this study will help youth living with obesity in other places too.


This research study aims to explore how young people experience unfair judgment by others based on their weight in their daily lives.

Study Procedures

This is a participatory research study, which means that the people participating (including you) will help make decisions about what happens in the study. Since the young people in this study are going to help decide what happens in it, it is hard to know exactly what will happen! But we do know some things that will happen. First, there will be a 30-45 minute long interview, where we will get to know you better. At the end of this interview, you will be asked if you want to participate in the next part of the study. This next part will include more interviews. Some of these interviews will be just with the researchers. The other interviews will be group interviews with the researchers and other young people who have obesity. In these group interviews we will talk and do art (like collages) together and explore what it is like to experience judgment from others because of body size. You can decide how much you share in these interviews. Through this project you will also have the chance to start and join a “youth engagement committee”. This committee will be a group of young people who live with obesity who are interested in taking action to promote respect for people of all sizes.

All the things talked about above will take place at a time and place that works best for you, outside of school hours. Interviews will be audio-recorded and notes will be taken. The information that is audio-recorded will be typed out by the researcher so it can be read as well as listened to.


You may not benefit directly from being in this study. We hope that the information we get from doing this study will help us better understand how and why people are treated differently because of their size, so that together, we can find better ways to reduce this problem. Your participation may also make others more aware of this unfair treatment and the negative ways it affects young people’s lives. Plus, your participation counts as volunteer work, where you will learn about how research works.

You will get a $30 Indigo gift card for participating in this study. You will not have to pay anything to participate in the research.


You cannot be physically hurt by participating in this project. You might, however, experience some emotional discomfort. It can be difficult talking about things that are hard in your life. Sometimes this can bring up bad memories or make people feel uncomfortable. You only have to share what you want to in the interview, during the group interviews, and as a part of the engagement committee. You can also tell us you if don’t want to answer a question at any time. Everything you tell us will stay confidential. This means we will not share what you say with other people. There a few things that we might have to share with other people. For example, if you share something that makes us think you or someone else is unsafe, then the law says we have to share this with others who can help. If during the study, you feel like you want to talk to a professional (like a counsellor or psychologist) about your experiences then you can let us know and we will find someone you can talk to.  

Voluntary Participation

You do not have to participate in this study as participation is completely voluntary. Even if you agree to be in the study, you can change your mind and tell us that you don’t want to participate anymore. You do not have to answer all of the questions in the interviews if there are certain questions you would like to skip. There is absolutely no penalty if you choose to stop participating in the study.

You can withdraw from the study up until two weeks after your interview. You cannot withdraw from the group interview once you participate in group discussions, because the data will be analyzed as a whole and we cannot remove individual comments. You can participate in as many interviews or other aspects of the research as you would like.  

You can talk with your parents, if you would like, about whether you want to participate. Each time we meet, we will remind you about the voluntary nature of this study and your right to withdraw at any point.

Anonymity & Confidentiality

Study results will be included in a research report, called a dissertation, prepared by the main researcher. Results will also be presented at conferences and published in journal articles. We will work hard to make sure that other people reading the results don’t know who participated.  A pseudonym (fake name) will be used rather than your real name when direct quotes from interviews are used. Most of the time we will try to talk about the information learned as a group (rather than speaking about one person’s experience).

The audio tapes and interview transcripts (typed out versions of the interviews) will be kept in a secure storage cabinet in the Supervisor of the Principal Investigator’s office in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta for five years to maintain confidentiality (keep them private). Your contact information will also be locked away in a safe place at the University of Alberta. The information that is on a computer will be kept on separate secure computer servers with password protection.

We will do our best to make sure others don’t know that it is you sharing information. Because you may choose to be in small group interviews with 4-6 other people, those people will be able to identify you based on what you have said in the group. We will ask the other group members to keep what is talked about in the interviews to themselves and not to share it with others. But, we cannot guarantee that other group members will not share what they hear in the group with others.

Further Information

If you have any more questions about this study, you can call or email the main researcher, Alexa Ferdinands, at (403) 594-3552 or The University of Alberta has a process to make sure that all research that is done is safe for the people participating. This study has gone through this process and the University of Alberta ethics office has agreed that it is a safe study. If you have questions about this process or about your rights as a participant you can call the Research Ethics Office at (780) 492-2615.