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Weight bias and weight shaming are prominent problems in the U.S.

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 8:24 AM CDT
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(WSAW) - Weight bias means holding negative attitudes about people’s weight or harming/shaming someone because of their weight. Appearing in every aspect of life including employment, health care, education, media and personal life, weight bias is a prominent problem in the U.S. affecting adults and children alike, across various ethnicities. Surprisingly, weight bias is so prevalent, that it’s even experienced in presumed “safe” places like doctor’s offices, at home and in schools.

According to one study, physicians surveyed indicated they would spend 28% less time with a patient with obesity than they would a patient of normal weight. Another study revealed 72% of respondents experienced weight bias from their very own family members.  Weight bias begins in early stages of life and can continue all the way through adolescence. This can cause children to experience bullying and peer victimization, which can lead to poor mental and physical health. Study results reveal at least 30% of girls and 24% of boys with excess weight report being teased by peers at school. One particular study looking at a large sample of adolescents found that unfair treatment on the basis of their bodies was associated with an increased risk of thoughts and actions of self-harm.  The same study concluded weight discrimination was associated with a more than twofold increased risk of suicide for both boys and girls.

Knowing the facts about weight bias and bullying in children and adults could help permanently stop weight bias and may even save a life. Weight bias and shaming do not help people lose weight. Obesity is a chronic, complex disease so weight bias along with treatment stigma can keep those living with obesity from making informed, effective decisions about their health. The Obesity Action Coalition is a 75,000+ member non-profit organization dedicated to elevating and empowering those affected by obesity through education, advocacy and support.

The OAC says there’s clearly a need to raise public awareness and educate audiences on the negative impacts of weight bias in order to effect change in perceptions and push equality forward. #StopWeightBias is their new campaign that aims to do just that and offers ways to help you become a part of the solution.

Learn more at www.stopweightbias.com

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