Today, March 2, is Weight Bias Day of Obesity Care Week.
Unfortunately, weight bias is the root cause of many problems that people living with obesity often face. It is defined as negative attitudes, beliefs, judgments, stereotypes and discriminatory acts aimed at individuals simply because of their weight.
Bias can occur in all areas of life such as school, healthcare, the workplace, and even among family and friends. It also takes many forms – verbal, written, media, online and more.
Why We Need to Care
Bias is dehumanizing and damaging. It can lead to physical and psychological health problems and promotes a social norm that sees higher-weight individuals as “less than.”
In the workplace, bias can mean lower pay, fewer promotions, or the rejection of a job offer even if the individual is the most qualified. In schools, it can lead to trouble concentrating and bullying from peers. Bias can result in depression, anxiety, poor body image and low self-esteem.
In addition, bias can prevent someone with obesity from getting the care they need. In healthcare, a lack of sensitivity can lead to:
- Delayed medical appointments
- Lower quality care
- Worsening health
Addressing Weight Bias
All of us have a responsibility to call out bias when we see it. Schools and workplaces should have policies and programs in place to protect individuals from unfair treatment. Healthcare providers should strive to have a bias-free environment that uses People First Language, has furniture and equipment to accommodate all patients, and takes time to listen to their needs and concerns.
- Weight Bias Fact Sheet
- OAC’s Understanding Obesity Stigma Brochure
- Weight Bias and Childhood Bullying Info-graphic
- OAC’s Weight Bias Reporting Tool
- OAC Image Gallery
- People-First Language
OAC Articles about Weight Bias:
- Fat-shaming: The Arguments Simply Do Not Work
- Understanding the Stigma of Obesity and its Consequences
- Weight Bias and Discrimination: A Challenge for Healthcare Providers
- Weight Bias: Does it Affect Men and Women Differently