World Obesity Federation Release Paper Addressing Stigma

by | Oct 17, 2023 | European News, News

The World Obesity Federation releases position statement by global obesity community addressing weight stigma and changing obesity narratives.

Titled ‘Changing the Global Obesity Narrative to Recognize and Reduce Weight Stigma’, the paper published in Obesity Reviews sheds light on the pervasive misconceptions and stereotypes associated with higher body weight, presenting weight stigma as both a social determinant of health and a human rights issue while recognising its variations by culture and geography.

Nine recommendations to reduce weight stigma have been outlined by a weight stigma working group, convened by World Obesity Federation. Following these steps will create a more inclusive and understanding world.

  1. Distinguish between body size and obesity: Encourages healthcare providers to use an accurate definition of obesity that moves beyond a solely BMI-based measurement and distinguishes between body size and the disease of obesity.
  2. Use person-first language: Advocates for person-first language to reduce stigma and establish an accurate representation of individuals before their diagnosis or stigmatised identity.
  3. Consider individual language preferences: Highlights the importance of respecting individual preferences in the use of weight-related language.
  4. Use non-stigmatising language and imagery: Urges communication that avoids perpetuating stereotypes or blaming individuals for their weight.
  5. Engage in weight-neutral health promotion: Recommends a shift from a focus on weight and weight loss towards holistic health promotion for all individuals, regardless of their weight or size.
  6. Engage in legislative and policy efforts: Advocates for policies and legislation that combat weight-based discrimination in various domains such as education, healthcare, employment, and media.
  7. Promote human rights-based approaches: Encourages efforts to promote human rights protections against weight-based discrimination, asserting the equal dignity of all individuals.
  8. Raise awareness of weight stigma: Emphasizes the importance of incorporating weight stigma awareness into professional training and education programs.
  9. Increase the global evidence base: Calls for further research on weight stigma globally, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, to identify effective strategies to reduce weight stigma.

The full press release from the World Obesity Federation can be found here.