Katholische Kirche St. Peter in Vienna

ECO2018: Global Obesity Brings Global Weight Bias

At the opening of ECO2018 this morning, one thing is abundantly clear. With the rise of global obesity, we have a growing recognition that weight bias is becoming an important global problem, too.

New Study Confirms Unfavorable Trends

Alan Moses is presenting an analysis of the global prevalence of obesity and diabetes. Unfortunately, the trends are not good. By 2045, their best estimate is that one in eight people worldwide will have diabetes. Driving that trend is the growing prevalence of obesity. Moses, who is the Chief Medical Officer for Novo Nordisk, estimates that obesity prevalence worldwide will be 22% by then. Nearly half (48%) of the adult UK population will have obesity by then.

Moses warns that this trend will not be easy to stop:

It takes ten to 15 years for someone’s obesity to translate to diabetes. So even if we all stopped getting fatter today, we’d still see more cases of diabetes.

An International View of Weight Stigma

Unfortunately, this rising tide of obesity seems to be bringing us ever more concerns about weight stigma. Certainly, we have seen too many stigmatizing campaigns to dramatize the risks of obesity. Perhaps this is fostering more stigma. Or instead, we may have become more sensitive to the issue.

In that vein, the EASO Patient Council organized an international workshop on weight stigma for this opening morning. Christine Fleetwood opened the workshop. Arya Sharma, Ximena Ramos-Salas, Joe Nadglowski, Ted Kyle, and patient advocates from all over Europe presented as well.

The group offered no magic solution. Bias is a stubborn human problem. But respect, care, and support for people living with obesity offers promise. But perhaps the most promising opportunity is knowledge. A better, objective understanding of what obesity is and what it isn’t is the best antidote to ignorant biases.

Click here and here for more on the new research about diabetes and obesity prevalence. Click here for Kyle’s presentation from this morning.

Katholische Kirche St. Peter in Vienna, photograph © Ted Kyle / flickr

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May 23, 2018

6 Responses to “ECO2018: Global Obesity Brings Global Weight Bias”

  1. May 23, 2018 at 11:30 pm, M said:

    I think it is important to remember that they keep changing the criteria for T2DM. It is a good thing; earlier diagnosis means a reduction of long-term complications. However, it does mean that there will naturally be more diagnoses.

    Also, I sometimes think that the ever-climbing rate of obesity is half real and half moral panic. If you do the math, it’s not long before 120% of the US will be obese. “Help. My obesity is obese.”

    The slides were quite interesting. I think it would be interesting to see this expanded to other countries, including some like Japan, where there’s apparently both a cultural bias against being fat combined with a noticeable incidence of normal weight obesity, and others where body size is or was a lesser part of culture.

    • May 24, 2018 at 4:02 am, Ted said:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  2. May 24, 2018 at 4:04 am, Joe Gitchell said:

    Thank you, Ted–very cool and important stuff.

    Related to issues of bias and stigma, I don’t know if you had come across work that connects the disgust response with “outgroups” as a part of dehumanizing them?

    The link below provides a solid, lay-accessible review (at least I found it useful!).


    • May 24, 2018 at 7:44 am, Ted said:

      Thanks for sharing this important perspective, Joe!

  3. May 24, 2018 at 5:04 pm, Mary-Jo Overwater said:

    Great work happening there. I lived in Vienna up until last October — in district 6 on gumpfendorferstrasse 34. 😀 I would have definitely attended. Wonderful cafes. Sole is a very good fish restaurant in district 1.

    • May 24, 2018 at 11:34 pm, Ted said:

      See you next year in Glasgow, Mary-Jo!