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World Obesity Day looks to end weight stigma
Being marked around the planet today, World Obesity Day is calling for an end to the stigma which overweight and obese people experience in their daily lives.
Marked around the world today, 11th October 2018, World Obesity Day is using the term #EndWeightStigma to shine a spotlight on the stigmatising language and images used by the media, healthcare providers and society at large.
Backing up the campaign, health and education researchers from the University of Otago, Victoria University and Massey University have joined forces to raise awareness of the issue.
Lesley Gray, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Primary Healthcare and General Practice at the University of Otago, Wellington; Dr Cat Pausé, a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Education, Massey University; and Dr Caz Hales, a Lecturer in the Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at Victoria University of Wellington say the bias, discrimination and stigma that fat people experience across all aspects of their lives harms their health.
Gray (pictured below) explains “fat discrimination is pervasive across media, employment, health and school environments.
“We must each play our part to call out discrimination and bias.”
The researchers say Governments should pass legislation to make it illegal to discriminate against fat people while, in schools, teachers need to ensure that stigma against fat people is not reinforced by course materials and in lessons about bodies and health.
Dr Pausé advises “fat stigma contributes to decreased physical and mental well-being for fat people and presents a barrier for fat people to access evidence-based, bias-free healthcare”.
Backing up the message being advanced by World Obesity, the researchers see that the media also has an important role to play when it comes to fat stigma, with stories often containing negative stereotypes about fat people.
Gray says “the image of the headless fatty, a fat person without a head, that often accompanies stories related to fatness, reproduces fat stigma. It allows the reader to consider fat people to be less than human.”
Dr Pausé adds “the media also has a responsibility to tell stories that do not focus on fatness as a problem. Where are the positive stories about fat athletes or CEOs?”
In April, the researchers held a seminar at Otago University, Wellington to educate health and social care professionals on the stigma that fat people face.
Dr Hales says healthcare workers are in a prime position to advocate for people of larger size who require care and support.
World Obesity Day was launched in 2015 to support practical solutions to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and to reverse the obesity crisis.
For more information go to www.obesityday.worldobesity.org/world-obesity-day-2018
24th September 2018 - Weight Watchers ends use of ‘weight’ in branding
19th August 2018 - VicHealth looks to enhance This Girl Can campaign in regional Victoria
12th July 2018 - Adelaide gym slammed over ‘fat shaming’ promotion
27th January 2018 - Sri Lankan women take on gym’s ‘body shaming’ ad
20th February 2017 - Strength training carries weight for obese teens
11th November 2016 - Australian Sports Commission says sport and education key to tackling obesity
22nd May 2016 - China grapples with rise in childhood obesity
25th February 2016 - New industry qualification to combat obesity
20th October 2015 - World Obesity Federation launches new award to promote healthy conferences
19th October 2015 - Gym attendance high but barriers to exercise still significant
10th October 2015 - Rise in obesity hits United Nations goals on diet-related diseases
20th January 2015 - Tackling obesity is Queensland’s major health issue
21st December 2014 - Obesity shortens lifespans by ‘up to eight years’
8th October 2014 - New Zealand Minister of Health and Sport to focus on obesity prevention
2nd September 2013 - Healthy Canberra Grants provide 2.1 million reasons to reduce obesity rates
22nd August 2013 - Obesity expert Garry Egger to suggest ‘leaking guts’ as a cause of obesity
17th July 2012 - Geelong recognised for obesity prevention
3rd February 2010 - Australian women have highest rising obesity rate
25th September 2009 - Childhood obesity rate continues to rise
9th February 2009 - 24/7 Fitness clubs offer obesity solution
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