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It’s time to end the last form of socially acceptable prejudice.

Canadians living with obesity face widespread weight bias and discrimination - from strangers, educators, employers, health professionals, media and even friends and family.

This has negative consequences including shame and guilt, anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem and body dissatisfaction that can lead to unhealthy weight-control practices. Weight discrimination also negatively affects access to education, employment and medical care. 

What causes weight bias and discrimination?

If you have ever been the victim of obesity stigma, you are not alone. Read on to learn more about what it is, how it can it can affect you and steps that you can take to eliminate this issue.

Stigma is a negative social outlook or belief. The negative stereotyping of individuals living with obesity is known as weight bias. The unfair treatment that people with obesity face is called obesity stigma or weight-based discrimination

“Look what he’s done to himself, if only he had some self-control, or wasn’t so lazy”.

Obesity stigma can be seen in:

  • Verbal and emotional discrimination, when individuals are teased, insulted, made fun of or rejected by their friends, family and peers (e.g. weight-based bullying in schools and employment settings)
  • Physical discrimination, when individuals are assaulted or harassed because of their weight
  • Barriers in day-to-day life (e.g., undersized chairs in public locations or lack of appropriate-sized medical equipment such as blood pressure cuffs and patient gowns)
  • Access to healthcare (e.g. when treatments for obesity are not available or not reimbursed by health plans)

“Maybe if she exercised more she wouldn’t look like that.”

Obesity is a medical condition that can be caused by multiple factors.

However, people often think that individuals living with obesity are personally responsible for their weight because they just eat too much or do not exercise enough. 

Broadening your understanding and knowledge about obesity is the first step in helping change attitudes and behaviours. To learn more about obesity, visit the Understanding Obesity section of this website.

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