#OCW2021: Weight bias is defined as negative attitudes and beliefs about people who live with obesity.Monday, March 1st of Obesity Care Week (#OCW2021) is focused on weight bias.

Unfortunately, weight bias is at the root of many problems that people living with obesity often face. Weight bias 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 About Weight Bias

Weight bias is dehumanizing and damaging. It can lead to physical and psychological health problems and promotes a social norm that marginalizes people with obesity.

In the workplace, weight 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. Weight 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, and worsening health.

Here is an example of how weight bias has affected OAC Member Shekinah Samaya Thomas:

Taking a Stand against Weight Bias

To eliminate weight bias will take all of us working together, calling out weight bias when we see or experience it. Schools and workplaces should have policies and programs in place to protect individuals from unfair treatment. Healthcare providers should strive to create 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. Taking a stand against weight bias also requires educating others about the disease of obesity, changing false perceptions, and increasing understanding.

OAC’s Resources on Weight Bias

For more of OAC’s weight bias resources, click here to visit our Weight Bias Program.

Spread the Word During #OCW2021!