You have a cold so you go to the doctor's office. You walk in & step on the scale. The rest of your vitals are taken. As soon as your doctor walks in they say "Wow! Pandemic pounds no wonder you have a cold." This is an example of weight bias.
Weight bias happens daily in all types of settings from healthcare to the workplace. Weight bias is the second most common form of discrimination. Sadly people
who face racial discrimination often also face weight bias.
During Obesity Care Week we highlight the urgent need to stop weight bias. Taking action against weight bias has to happen at many levels: individuals facing weight bias, clinicians, and systematic changes.
Individuals Facing Weight Bias
Four out of 10 people with obesity report they have faced discrimination due their weight.
In the Livestrong article "Weight Bias Makes Health Care Unequal. Here's How to Unlearn It" I join various professionals to empower individuals facing weight bias with information and anti-weight bias strategies.
The Obesity Care Week site also has several useful resources to help address weight bias for both adults and children. Children report higher rates of weight related bullying. This starts as early as preschool.
Healthcare professionals aren't immune to weight bias against patients with obesity. Weight bias in healthcare has direct impact on patients with obesity seeking medical care and patient outcomes. There are several reasons for weight bias in healthcare including lack of understanding that obesity is a complex disease and not a lifestyle choice. Many clinicians may not even be aware of your bias since implicit weight bias is common You can assess your implicit bias by taking the free Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT) for weight.
Check out this insightful video on weight bias as part of Obesity Care Week. It features to leading experts in weight bias.
There are also resources for clinicians on the Obesity Care Week Website.
Weight bias is a complex issue that is woven through so many levels of society. Currently Michigan is the only state that it is illegal to discriminate based on weight. To take action again weight bias, Obesity Care Week has the following resources:
Write to your state representatives today. Encourage them to stop weight bias and increase access to care- Click here to start your letter
Take the Stop Weight Bias pledge. Download a sample email to urge your school and school district to add weight-based bullying to their code of conduct.
Now is the time to #StopWeightBias. If you are experiencing weight bias, please know it's not your fault. We all have a role in stopping weight bias. Take action today!