World Obesity Day (WOD) was established by the World Obesity Federation in 2015 as an annual campaign. It is celebrated on October 11, with the goal of initiating and supporting practical actions that will help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reverse the global obesity crisis. Its mission is to lead and drive global efforts to reduce, prevent and treat obesity.
For #WorldObesityDay 2018, World Obesity Federation is raising awareness about the prevalence, severity and diversity of weight stigma with the focus “End Weight Stigma”. Stigma occurs in a wide variety of settings and the media has been identified as one of the main perpetrators. Current media portrayals of obesity reinforce inaccurate and negative stereotypes about weight which can lead to weight stigma.
On 2018 WOD, there is call for all media outlets to end their use of stigmatising language and imagery and instead portray obesity in a fair, accurate and informative manner.
What is Weight Stigma?
Weight stigma refers to negative behaviours and attitudes that are directed towards individuals solely because of their weight. Although it has been proven to undermine people’s broader health, weight stigma remains relatively absent from the conversation surrounding obesity.
If we are to end obesity stigma, it’s important to adjust our language and attitudes, raise awareness and improve our knowledge about its extensive impact.
By focusing on stigma this World Obesity Day it is aimed to:
- Raise awareness about the presence and impact of weight stigma and what can be done about it.
- Increase member engagement and encourage engagement with advocacy/campaigning on weight stigma.
- Help people overcome the barriers that arise as a result of stigma, which can prevent them getting the medical treatment they need.
What can we do to reduce Weight Stigma?
1. Media to abandon the use of negative images and language about obesity.
2.Greater awareness about multiple sources of weight stigma and greater understanding of the steps to avoid it. All places of work should implement policies that protect employees; employers; students and clients with respect irrespective of their weight.
3.Government action to improve the environments we live in, with an integrated approach rather than focus on individual responsibility and blame, such as:
Address obesogenic food environments, improving the availability and access to nutritious food and reducing exposure to marketing of less healthy options.
Better town planning protocols which improve urban environments, ensuring they are walkable, have green space and are conducive to more activity as part of people’s daily lives.
Action should be taken in all relevant sectors from health, to education, to media and culture, to development and social services.
4.Health care providers to acknowledge the environmental factors that cause obesity, which will improve support and efficacy during diagnosis and treatment.