Living with obesity means more than just managing the physical challenges of a chronic disease. It also means handling the negative – and often ill-informed – attitudes of other people. If you have obesity, being treated unfairly because of your weight can have serious physical and psychological consequences. Weight bias and obesity stigma are important terms for understanding why this happens, but what do they really mean?
People with obesity are routinely stigmatised by
educators5, employers6, the media7,
friends and family8, and even by doctors and other health
care professionals9. Although men and women experience
obesity stigma, women tend to have more eating-related health problems
and to internalise weight bias more than men10.
Popular attitudes and beliefs about people with obesity – that they are lazy, or lack willpower – contribute to weight bias by oversimplifying the causes of the disease. As well as being ill-informed, these attitudes imply that easy solutions – "eat less, move more" – bring quick results. This sets unrealistic expectations while hiding the complex challenges people experience when trying to change their behaviour.
Such attitudes also focus on "individual willpower" while ignoring important biological, social and environmental factors11.
Watch and learn more about weight bias and stigma
Like other forms of discrimination (for instance, on the grounds of
race, class, ability, gender or sexual orientation), weight bias and
obesity stigma result in inequality, and this can be just as damaging
as the physical effects of the disease itself12.
For people living with obesity, discrimination on the grounds of weight often means a lower income, fewer job and educational opportunities, and poorer healthcare. It can also result in serious psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and low self-esteem13.
Obesity perspectives is a blog where members of Novo Nordisk's Disease Experience Expert Panels (DEEPs) share their personal perspectives on living with obesity. From starting conversations with healthcare professionals, to starting a movement to advocate change, our bloggers offer thought-provoking opinions, advice and encouragement for every step of the obesity journey.
DISEASE EXPERIENCE EXPERT PANELS
At Novo Nordisk, we consider people living with serious chronic diseases to be experts. That's why we invite them to become members of our Disease Experience Expert Panels (DEEPs). DEEP members are able to provide disease-specific insights and advice based on real-world experiences. This input guides us as we work to develop better treatments and meaningful support for people living with chronic diseases worldwide.
Obesity is a serious chronic disease that requires treatment. Diet and exercise are important for losing weight, but are not always enough to maintain weight loss.
The underlying cause of obesity is an energy imbalance between energy consumed and the way the body uses this energy, but that's only one part of the story.
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