Global leaders in obesity research plus hundreds of medical, scientific, & academic associations and institutions have taken this pledge to end the stigma.
An expert panel of obesity researchers from leading academic medical institutions and scientific associations published a consensus statement in Nature Medicine on March 4, 2020 that includes condemnation of "the use of stigmatizing language, images, attitudes, policies, and weight-based discrimination, wherever they occur."The consensus statement incorporates a pledge to end weight stigma and discrimination; the authors call on stakeholders across social and scientific institutions, including in the workplace, education, healthcare settings, goverment, and policy-making arenas to sign on.We highlight this first pledge of its kind in the slides below and review the terms that describe the barriers to effective management ofÂ obesity on all levels.Â
My thirty year experience in the field of obesity medicine has taught me how hard it actually is to reverse public perception of obesity. The only way out of this ignorance is to encourage education into our current knowledge of the pathophysiology that leads to this debilitating disease. I am proud to be a co-author on this consensus statement which brought together a world- wide group of like minded clinicians to write an honest statement coming from the heart.
Caroline Apovian, MD
Professor of medicine and pediatrics, Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, Boston University School of Medicine; director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management, Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts
We recognize that individuals affected by overweight and obesity face a pervasive form of social stigma based on the typically unproven assumption that their body weight derives primarily from a lack self-discipline and personal responsibility.
We recognize that such portrayal is inconsistent with current scientific evidence demonstrating that body-weight regulation is not entirely under volitional control, and that biological, genetic, and environmental factors critically contribute to obesity.
We recognize that weight bias and stigma can result in discrimination, and undermine human rights, social rights, and the health of afflicted individuals and further that weight stigma and discrimination cannot be tolerated in modern societies.
Weight-based stereotypes include generalizations that individuals with overweight or obesity are: Lazy, gluttonous, lacking in willpower and self-discipline, incompetent, unmotivated to improve their health, non-compliant with medical treatment, personally to blame for their higher body weight
Weight stigma refers to social devaluation and denigration of individuals because of their excess body weight, and can lead to negative attitudes, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. Weight discrimination refers to overt forms of weight-based prejudice and unfair treatment (biased behaviors) toward individuals with overweight or obesity.
Weight bias internalization occurs when individuals engage in self-blame and self-directed weight stigma because of their weight. Weight bias internalization includes agreement with stereotypes and application of these stereotypes to oneself and self-devaluation.
Explicit weight bias refers to overt, consciously held negative attitudes that can be measured by self-report. Implicit weight bias consists of automatic, negative attributions and stereotypes existing outside of conscious awareness.
There is a significant gap between scientific evidence and prevailing misconceptions in the public narrative, including that body weight relies on a simple calories in/out equation; that obesity is a lifestyle choice; and, that obesity is not a chronic disease.
We condemn the use of stigmatizing language, images, attitudes, policies, and weight-based discrimination, wherever they occur.
We pledge: to treat individuals with overweight and obesity with dignity and respect.We pledge: to refrain from using stereotypical language, images, and narratives that unfairly and inaccurately depict individuals with overweight and obesity as lazy, gluttonous, and lacking willpower or self-discipline.
We pledge:to encourage and support educational initiatives aimed at eradicating weight bias through dissemination of current knowledge of obesity and body-weight regulation. We pledge:to encourage and support initiatives aimed at preventing weight discrimination in the workplace, education, and healthcare settings.