Taking the Mic to Destigmatize Obesity

With great gifts come great responsibilities. It doesn’t really matter whether you get this message from biblical sources or Spiderman. The imperative is there. If you have a big platform, you better use it to serve a purpose bigger than yourself. It looks like Queen Latifah and Novo Nordisk might be using their platforms to destigmatize obesity. Yesterday, they launched a campaign under the banner It’s Bigger Than Me. The core message seems to be that shame and blame is no way to deal with obesity. Taking control of your own health offers a better way.

Let’s be honest. This is a difficult path they’ve chosen. Diets and fitness regimes get a lot more traction in popular culture than serious talk about the biology of obesity. But there it is. “This is bigger than us and our DNA is part of it,” says Latifah in one segment.

Re-Framing Obesity

Reaching a bigger audience to re-frame obesity is critical. So much of the messaging for decades now has been to point the finger at poor diets and sedentary lives. This has only brought endless cycles of diet fads and people going through the motions of exercise to lose weight. Yet the focus in popular culture on diet and exercise has not brought much progress in reversing obesity trends.

The reason is simple, the biology of people who are susceptible to obesity is interacting with our food, social, and physical environment to trigger obesity. We can try to address the environment, but we haven’t had much success yet. So it is critical to address the biology that’s driving obesity, shifting from messages that promote blame and shame, to focus the conversation on the biology of this condition.

Reaching a Broader Audience

People in the growing community of obesity medicine specialists are doing their part to educate health professionals and destigmatize obesity, but that is clearly not enough. Harvard physician Fatima Cody Stanford explains:

“It’s one thing for me, as an obesity medicine physician, to be putting all of my energy into educating peers in medicine and healthcare about a better approach to obesity and putting an end to weight bias. But Queen Latifah is reaching out on a whole different level.

“It is heartening to see prominent public figures like Queen Latifah recognizing that weight struggles are real. Many people have lived this experience of having excess weight. We need more people with prominent platforms to align with the science of obesity.”

Joe Nadglowski of the Obesity Action Coalition echoed those sentiments:

“OAC and Novo Nordisk have a long-standing relationship in the effort to change the way we talk about obesity, treat it, and most importantly, change the way we care about people with obesity. We applaud Queen Latifah for stepping up to champion this very important cause and bring national awareness to its complexity.”

Latifah has a big mic that can reach many people to destigmatize obesity. Novo Nordisk has a big investment in this field and good business reasons to help people turn away from shame and blame that gets in the way of progress. Our hope is that this will lead to less stigma and more health. Time will tell.

Click here, here, and here for more reporting on the campaign.

Microphone, photograph © La Mary Anne / flickr

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October 8, 2021

One Response to “Taking the Mic to Destigmatize Obesity”

  1. October 08, 2021 at 12:08 pm, Angela Kae Golden said:

    WOW!!!! I have wanted a “big mic” to take this on and help us bring this forward. I can’t wait to see this move forward!!!!!