Three Things That Matter: Policy, Bias, and Research

As the Obesity Week 2013 program gains momentum in Atlanta, you’ll find three things that matter to ConscienHealth on the agenda: policy, bias, and research. ConscienHealth and our collaborators are presenting five studies on these subjects.

On the subject of obesity policy, we’re presenting a study of “Employer Wellness Programs, Weight Outcome Hurdles, and Obesity Treatment Access” (T-363-P, Wednesday 11:30-1:30). The Health Services Research Section of the Obesity Society has honored this study as one of most outstanding abstracts submitted to the meeting. Also on Wednesday, we’re presenting a study of “Perceptions of Obesity as a Policy Issue: Differences between Healthcare Professionals and the General Public” (T-362-P, 11:30-1:30).

If you want more on policy, Obesity Week has an entire track devoted to the subject, so you’ll not go wanting.

But on the subject of research, you’ll find a little less time devoted to how we organize the research agenda. Just how ambitious are we about novel research to unlock a deeper understanding of obesity? Led by Emily Dhurandhar, we’ll present “Assessing the Obesity Research Agenda: A Survey of the Obesity Society’s Membership” (T-364-P, Wednesday 11:30-1:30).

Perhaps most noteworthy on the subject of obesity research is a plenary symposium chaired by Obesity Society president Harvey Grill and NIDDK director Griffin Rodgers: “The Future of Obesity Research” (Wednesday 10:00-11:30).

Weight bias impacts efforts to address obesity across the board. One expression of weight bias is to define people by their disease as obese people, rather than considering them as people first who have obesity. In addressing disabilities and virtually every other chronic disease, people-first language is the norm. People-first language is mandated by the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association publication guidelines. And now the Obesity Society (TOS),  the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), and all of the major professional organizations devoted to obesity have adopted people-first language for obesity.

We’ll present two studies devoted to this subject: “People-First Language, Demographics, and Bias Against Persons with Diabetes or Obesity” (T-556-P, Thursday 5:30-7:00) and “People-First Language Is an Indication of Less Explicit Weight Bias” (T-557-P, Thursday 5:30-7:00).

Unfortunately, you won’t find a lot of content elsewhere in the meeting devoted to weight bias.

If you want to know what matters to people, look where they invest their time. ConscienHealth is investing in sound obesity policies, elimination of weight bias, and a novel research agenda to equip us to reverse the obesity epidemic.

Click here to read the joint TOS-OAC position on people-first language for obesity and here to read about more highlights of Obesity Week 2013.

The Only Thing that Matters, photograph © Lotus Carroll / flickr

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