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End stigma call on World Obesity Day

Wednesday March 4th, 2020

The world needs a consensus statement to prevent weight-based discrimination, medical and scientific organisations say today.

Today (4 March), on World Obesity Day, more than 100 international groups signed a pledge to develop a consensus statement that “recognises unscientific public narratives of obesity as a major cause of weight stigma”.

It also demands strong policies and legislation to prevent discrimination based on weight.

The pledge appears in Nature Medicine. Professor Francesco Rubino of King's College London, UK, says: "Weight stigma is a public health problem, undermines human and social rights and is a major stumbling block in the fight against the epidemic of obesity.

"The objective of this initiative was to gather a broad group of experts and scientific organisations and, for the first time, speak with one voice to unambiguously condemn weight stigma and expose the misconceptions that contribute to weight bias."

The statement points out that health care providers are a common source of weight stigma, so academic institutions and professional bodies are being encouraged to give formal teaching on the causes, mechanisms, and treatments of obesity, including stigma-free skills and practices.

As the media portrayal of obesity is very influential, the statement calls on the media to produce fair, scientifically accurate, and non-stigmatising portrayals of obesity.

Co-author Professor Rebecca Puhl of the University of Connecticut, USA, says: "Weight stigma occurs in almost every aspect of our society, including the health care setting. It is critical that efforts to address this problem include support and action from the medical community.

"Challenging and changing widespread, deep-rooted beliefs, longstanding preconceptions, and prevailing mindsets requires a new public narrative of obesity that is coherent with modern scientific knowledge."

Professor Rachel Batterham, from the Royal College of Physicians in London, UK, added: "People living with obesity are constantly shamed and blamed for their disease. This is because, many people including doctors, policy makers and others, fail to recognised that obesity is a chronic disease with far reaching consequences for both individuals and societies.

"Anything we can do to support doctors and patients to talk openly about obesity is a step in the right direction. It could ultimately mean the difference between life and death."

http://www.pledge2endobesitystigma.org

Tags: Diet & Food | Fitness | North America | UK News | World Health

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