Stopping weight stigma: World Obesity Day 2018

Stigma around health conditions is nothing new. Over the years, HIV, diabetes and mental health have all led individuals to be seen and treated differently or negatively purely because of their health.

Thankfully, significant strides have been made to change society’s views in many areas. But this is not yet the case with obesity. Weight stigma continues to be an issue – whether conscious or not – ranging from subtle degrading to outward hostility. Around the world, it’s evident in the media, among politicians and even within healthcare.

The narrative needs to change. Obesity is a complex disease that stems from an interplay of multiple underlying factors: a dysfunctional food system, genetics and barriers within health systems are all part of the rising obesity rates. Patients are not culprits.

That’s why we’re proud to support the World Obesity Federation to help tackle stigma on 11 October for #WorldObesityDay. Here’s why it’s important:

  • Weight stigma in health services deters people from getting help with weight management
  • Stigma undermines people’s broader health: internalised personal blame for the disease causes anxiety, depression and low self-esteem
  • Changing the narrative around diseases and conditions (such as HIV) can transform public perceptions and improve quality of life and outcomes for patients.

We’re excited to be involved and look forward to engaging stakeholders – including the media – to help change the existing narrative and end weight stigma.