Weight discrimination is one of the biggest human rights issues of our time.

Stigmatisation starts with the incorrect belief that obesity is a simple problem with a simple solution.  When people believe that all there is to it is calorie-in/calorie-out, the only solution is dieting and exercise. However, we know that 83% of diets not only fail, but leave the dieter with more weight than they started out with.

 

This model inevitably leads to moral judgement.  After all, anyone who cannot manage to lose weight by getting active and restricting their calorie intake must, logically, be lazy, ignorant, and lacking in self-control.  Angered by bodies that they believe reflect such depravity, people feel they have the right (nay, the responsibility) to "help" through any means necessary.  Well-meaning, but ultimately misguided, interventions can include things as varied as offering advice on nutrition, mass-media shock tactics, and public humiliation.

 

In the United States, weight discrimination is now on par with racial discrimination (Puhl, 2010). The stigma only reinforces discomfort and makes it more difficult for obese individuals to live full, meaningful lives. This feeds in to other health problems, creating a vicious cycle in which there is virtually no exit.

 

De-stablising the calorie-in/calorie-out model presents a real opportunity to shift cultural perspectives on obesity and make room for acceptance.

Weight Stigma

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