Changing the Way WE CARE about Obesity: It Starts with Tackling Weight Bias #OACchat

Have you ever cracked a joke – or laughed at someone else’s – about a person with excess weight? Decided not to hire or promote someone because they have obesity? Called someone with obesity a derogatory name? Assumed someone with overweight is just lazy? Seen your child bully another child based on their weight? Are you a healthcare provider who believes patients carrying excess weight are non-compliant and lack willpower? These are all examples of weight bias – negative attitudes, judgments, beliefs and discrimination against people simply because they have excess weight. And it harms all of us.

People affected by the disease of obesity who experience weight bias may suffer adverse physical, social and psychological consequences, often leading to a loss of self-worth and to even more weight gain. Weight bias can affect salaries, promotions and employment opportunities. Healthcare providers may overlook problems, embarrass patients and give inferior care to those affected by obesity.

For society in general, any form of discrimination can be damaging. By pre-judging and devaluing individuals just because they’re different or affected by a medical condition, we demean the individual – and ourselves. Dehumanizing individuals in this way erects barriers to positive communication. Breaking those barriers in the context of weight can lead to a deeper understanding of obesity and the challenges those affected by the disease face on a daily basis. Having that discussion could change the way we all care about obesity.

Let’s remove the communication barriers!

On Monday, October 30th at 9:00 p.m. EST (6:00 pm PST), the Obesity Action Coalition is pleased to host a Tweet Chat (#OACchat) on weight bias for National Obesity Care Week. We invite everyone – with all points of view – to participate in a respectful, positive way. If you’re affected by overweight or obesity (or have a family member or friend who is) or experienced weight bias yourself; if you believe that teasing or bullying someone about their weight will motivate them to change; if you’re a healthcare provider who interacts with patients with overweight or obesity; or if you’re just interested in the topic, we want to hear from you!

We’ll pose six questions during the chat:

1. How would you personally define weight bias?

2. What motivates people to ridicule, tease and discriminate against those affected by obesity?

3. Where have you experienced weight bias? (e.g. At work, in a medical setting, within your family/personal networks, etc.)

4. In what ways do you think weight bias affects the health of someone who experiences it?

5. What do you do when you experience weight bias? Or what would you like to do

6. What changes do you think need to be made on an institutional level (healthcare, media, workplace, education, etc.) to support people who experience weight bias?

Please be sure to tag all your tweets with #OACchat so that everyone can follow along. Help us change the way we care about people affected by the disease of obesity!

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