How can I help eliminate obesity stigma and bias?

Although weight bias and obesity stigma cannot be changed overnight, you can play a crucial role in addressing this problem by changing how people view and discuss obesity.

The EPIC strategy lists some steps that you can incorporate into your daily life.

EDUCATE

  • Many people are not aware that obesity is a chronic medical condition that can be caused by multiple factors—many of which are out of a person’s control
    • Talking to others about how complex obesity is can help to inform them and eliminate negative stereotypes about it

PARTICIPATE

  • Go out and enjoy some of your favourite activities—don’t avoid doing things you love because others have discouraged you in the past
  • Try to gradually take part in activities that are out of your comfort zone
    • This can further improve your self-confidence and challenge negative misconceptions

INVESTIGATE

  • Do your own research
    • Look for evidence-based resources that can provide more information about obesity and different strategies that you can try to better manage your weight.
  • Many organizations, such as CON, are working towards eliminating weight bias and weight-based discrimination (obesity stigma).
    • You are not alone in facing this type of discrimination, and you can find support and work with others to help eliminate this problem
    • Don’t forget to sign-up to receive updates from CON! You will be informed about upcoming events, and have the opportunity to voice your opinion through polls, surveys and other activities

COMMUNICATE

  • Speak up when you hear negative comments about your (or someone else’s) weight that are hurtful
    • Many people may not realize that what they are saying is upsetting and disrespectful—expressing your feelings can help prevent these actions from reoccurring
  • Try to incorporate “people-first language” into your day-to-day conversations to respectfully address people living with a chronic disease, such as obesity, rather than labelling them by their disease (i.e., “people living with obesity”, rather than “obese people”). This is an important step in changing how we talk about obesity and reducing the bias. Click here to learn more about people-first language 
  • If you are dealing with emotional stress or negative thoughts due to obesity stigma or weight bias, consider discussing these with your healthcare professional or attending sessions with a professional therapist to help find healthy ways to cope
  • Avoid Fat Talk, i.e. making disparaging comments about yourself or others based on shape or size. Here are specific steps you can take to address Fat Talk:
    • Consciously correct yourself if you Fat Talk.  Replace those thoughts with something realistic and positive
    • Don’t compare your body to others
    • Appreciate your body for what it can do. If you feel down and are Fat Talking, try going for a walk and enjoy being outside
    • Turn a negative into a positive.  Instead of "I’m stocky," try "I’m strong!"
    • Never Fat Talk in front of your kids or friends

This page was printed from the Canadian Obesity Website (www.obesitynetwork.ca)