By Kristal Hartman, Obesity Action Coalition Board Chair

OCWObesity is a complex and multifaceted health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Despite its prevalence and impact on individuals’ lives, it remains one of the most stigmatized diseases in our society. Unlike many other health conditions, obesity often faces unfair judgment and discrimination, making it difficult for those affected to receive the care and support they need to improve their quality of life.

This week, we recognize Obesity Care Week (March 4-8, including World Obesity Day on March 4), a week dedicated to raising awareness, educating and advocating for individuals affected by obesity. Obesity Care Week is crucial for shining a spotlight on the challenges faced by individuals living with the disease while also advocating for better understanding, care, and support for those affected. It’s also a time for us to come together as a community and work towards breaking down the barriers that prevent people from accessing proper care and treatment. People living with obesity deserve the same care, dignity and respect afforded to those with other diseases.

At the heart of Obesity Care Week are the 5 Principles of Obesity, which serve as guiding principles for both understanding and addressing this complex disease:

  1. Obesity is a chronic disease. Just like diabetes or heart disease, obesity is a serious medical condition that requires long-term management and support.
  2. Obesity is driven by powerful underlying biology, not choice. Contrary to common misconceptions, obesity is not simply a result of overeating or lack of willpower. Genetics, metabolism, and environmental factors all play significant roles in its development.
  3. The health effects of excess weight can start early. Obesity doesn’t just impact physical health—it can also have profound effects on mental and emotional well-being, starting from a young age.
  4. Obesity is treatable. With the right support and resources, individuals living with obesity can achieve meaningful and sustainable improvements in overall health and quality of life.
  5. Weight bias, stigma, and discrimination are harmful. Negative attitudes and stereotypes towards people with obesity can have serious consequences, including barriers to healthcare and employment.

During Obesity Care Week, we encourage you to take action by signing the pledge and showing your support for these important principles. By acknowledging and promoting these principles, we can begin to shift the narrative surrounding obesity and create a more supportive and compassionate environment for those affected. But this change can’t happen without your help.

To learn more about Obesity Care Week and how you can get involved, visit Together, let’s work towards a future where obesity is no longer stigmatized and all individuals have access to the care and support they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

Kristal Hartman serves as the Chair of the Obesity Action Coalition National Board of Directors.

Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is a proud Founding Champion of Obesity Care Week. OAC is a more than 80,000-member-strong National nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals affected by the disease of obesity through education, advocacy and support.