An End to Blathering About Obesity? Nope!

The Wegovy brand of semaglutide has finally come to the UK this week – albeit in limited quantities. So in the Guardian, Zoe Williams wonders if this will mean the end to blathering about obesity:

“Despite this being a breakthrough, it is going to pose an immense challenge to those, in medicine and beyond, who think of obesity as a moral failure; those who blame people living with obesity for their body shape, as well as any other condition they might have, and from there trace a direct line to any overall health system crisis. Which is almost everybody.

“What will these people do if obesity goes away? What earthly new casuistry will they cook up to blame poverty on the poor? No wonder Wegovy’s rollout will be ‘controlled and limited.’ It might have this unfortunate side-effect as a scourge of bad-faith arguments.”

Worry Not

Implicit-and-Explicit-Bias-Patterns Through 2020We have little doubt that blathering about obesity will persist. Robust adoption of semaglutide for obesity has put nary a dent in people expressing their implicit biases about obesity with great conviction here in the U.S.

The refrains are familiar. Those people with obesity are taking this drug away from people who really need it! (Of course, these are often the same people.) Treating obesity will bankrupt healthcare! (Nope, the chronic diseases that untreated obesity causes are already doing that.) This is terrifying! (Lighten up – compulsory obesity treatment never has and never will be an issue.)

It is an unfortunate fact that implicit bias against people with obesity is stubbornly high. Yes, as research from Project Implicit documents, explicit bias has declined. It’s not nice to say nasty things out loud about larger people. But implicit bias bias against people with obesity stands out from all other forms of bias because it has risen and stayed stubbornly high while other forms of bias have declined.

So, yes, it’s great that semaglutide for obesity is finally available in the UK for treating obesity. But no, it will not save us from stupid expressions of ignorant bias.

Click here for Williams’ commentary in the Guardian, here, here, and here for more on the introduction of Wegovy in the UK.

Politvarus, sketch by Stanisław Szukalski for a surrealist sculpture never completed / WikiArt

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September 7, 2023