Six Ways to End Weight Bias
Obesity is a harsh chronic disease made worse by even harsher weight bias against people who have it. Parents, teachers, and peers make life miserable for kids growing up with obesity. Employers discriminate in hiring, pay, and promotion. Health plans and providers limit access to care that’s needed to overcome the disease. Policymakers throw money away on programs based on false assumptions that people with obesity just need to be “educated” on how not to be fat. Meanwhile they ignore opportunities to make a real difference.
Well, thanks to the Obesity Action Coalition, we are seeing a steady stream of better news about weight bias. Here are six ways that the OAC is making a difference:
1. Putting People with Obesity First. By training advocates and putting them face to face with experts and policy makers, OAC is making it harder to make bad assumptions. Ten years ago, policy decisions were almost always made with no input from people living with obesity. Today it’s much less common. Ten years ago, experts and policymakers talked about “the obese” as if they were alien creatures. Today, we insist on respect and consideration as people first.
2. Fighting Fat Shaming. Through grass roots action, OAC stands up and speaks out against people who try to shame people based on the size and shape of their bodies. Fat shaming was routine and seldom called out ten years ago. Today we don’t tolerate it.
3. Positive Images and Media Guidelines. A picture is worth a thousand words. Through the OAC Image Gallery and media guidelines, OAC is encouraging all kinds of media to portray the humanity of people living with obesity with respect. Headless bellies and butts have not disappeared, but more respectful portrayals are becoming common. The OAC Image Gallery gained international visibility when the Washington Post ran an impressive feature article about it. Since then, literally thousands of media representatives have visited the gallery.
4. Partnerships with Professional Organizations. Before the OAC stepped up, professional organizations concerned with obesity spoke with disparate voices and struggled to gain national attention. Today, through the Obesity Care Continuum and the Obesity Care Advocacy Network – which both unite patients, clinicians, and researchers – we speak with one loud voice.
5. Changing the Hearts and Minds of Policymakers. Ten years ago, policymakers paid little attention to the needs of millions of Americans living with obesity. Today we have allies in Congress, the FDA, Health and Human Services, and state governments.
6. YOU! All of this progress comes when you step up and lend your support to the cause. When people affected by obesity speak up, we are making decision makers listen. When you contribute to the OAC, we gain the resources needed to make an impact.
Fighting weight bias is a long, hard slog. But we are seeing progress, thanks to you and the OAC. This is exactly why ConscienHealth supports OAC as a Chairman’s Council member.
So, if you think this as important as we do, please step up. Please give whatever you can to the year-end appeal of the OAC. You’ll help pay for continued progress. Please get involved and lend your voice to others who are calling for an end to weight bias. Click here or the button on the right to support the OAC cause.
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December 13, 2016