A View of the World at Night

OCW2020: A Global Commitment to End Weight Stigma

This is a remarkable day for two big reasons. For one thing, it marks the first ever unified Worldwide Obesity Day. That by itself is impressive enough. But even more impressive is a global commitment to end weight stigma, published late yesterday in Nature Medicine.

This commitment, developed by 36 distinguished experts from all over the world, already has the endorsement of more than a hundred global medical organizations. If you want to know who’s in the lead on obesity, a quick look at that list will tell you.

Led by Francesco Rubino

The leadership for this effort came from Francesco Rubino, who chairs Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery at King’s College in London. He told us:

Weight stigma is a public health problem, undermines human and social rights and is a major stumbling block in the fight against the epidemic of obesity. The objective of this initiative was to gather a broad group of experts and scientific organizations and, for the first time, speak with one voice to unambiguously condemn weight stigma and expose the misconceptions that contribute to weight bias.

This effort grew out of his work to establish a global consensus on metabolic surgery for reversing type 2 diabetes. Almost four years ago now, experts from all over the world came together to publish that consensus.

But Rubino became frustrated that three years later, not much had changed. We have a superior treatment for reversing type 2 diabetes and few people use it. Why?

The Stumbling Block of Bias

The answer is simple. As we pointed out on Monday, two kinds of bias are preventing progress. First is bias about the disease itself. Then in turn, that bias fuels bias directed at the people who live with obesity. So long as people all over the world harbor this bias, we’re going nowhere. False beliefs hinder progress. And thus obesity continues to grow.

Rubino was not content to let this continue. So he recruited the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), the Obesity Society, and a host of organizations all over the world to come together in crafting a consensus to end weight bias.

Said Joe Nadglowski, the OAC CEO:

Dr. Rubino’s passion for this mission is inspiring to everyone who knows him. He wrangled so many diverse organizations with ease and brought them together in common cause. OAC is proud to support this work and lend our name to it. Defeating weight bias is the first step to overcoming obesity.

At ConscienHealth, we are bursting with pride to have participated in this process. We all owe Dr. Rubino a huge debt of gratitude.

Click here for the consensus published in Nature Medicine and here to add your name and your organization to the global consensus.

A View of the World at Night, photograph by NASA

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March 4, 2020