Tampa, Fla. – The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), a 58,000 member-strong nonprofit organization, is cautioning comedian Bill Maher to recognize that obesity is a serious health issue and not leverage weight bias, in any situation, as a tactic to encourage healthy behaviors. During the August 18th episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO, Mr. Maher used obesity as a focal point for his show’s ending monologue “New Rules.” In the course of discussing the health issue, he repeatedly made weight biased comments regarding the disease such as, “Obesity is the main reason people wear sweatpants in public” and “Among the shaming police, your body is perfect just the way it is – prone, on a gurney.”
“Mr. Maher’s comments only further perpetuate the weight bias and stigma all too often associated with obesity. While we recognize that Mr. Maher was attempting to have a serious discussion about obesity, he also needs to recognize that it’s a very complicated problem with no easy solution,” said Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO.
Obesity is a serious disease and national health crisis affecting more than 93 million Americans nationwide. It also is associated with a myriad of obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, some cancers, GERD, heart disease, arthritis, and more.
Weight bias can have a very harmful impact on individuals affected by obesity. Studies show that weight bias does not help anyone address their weight and health. In fact, it actually has the opposite impact. People affected by weight bias often delay important medical appointments. Psychological effects include depression, anxiety and poor body image. From a social and physical aspect, weight bias can lead to social rejection by peers, unhealthy weight control practices and more.
“While we understand Bill Maher’s main motivation is to bring comedic light to societal issues, he was severely misguided in his attempt to discuss obesity. Shaming people affected by obesity doesn’t encourage them to take better care of their health. It just makes us feel bad and often contributes to more weight gain,” said Patricia Nece, JD, OAC Weight Bias Task Force Chair and National Board Member.
The OAC is no stranger to taking its weight bias fight public, as the organization has addressed many weight bias issues throughout its existence in the public eye. “If Bill Maher wants to get serious about obesity and have a real conversation, the OAC would welcome the opportunity to educate him so that next time he uses his media platform to discuss it, it’s a constructive discussion,” said Nadglowski.
The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), a more than 58,000 member-strong National nonprofit organization, is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals affected by the disease of obesity through education, advocacy and support.