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In school settings, students who are overweight or obese can face harassment and ridicule from peers, as well as negative attitudes from teachers and other educators.
At the college level, some research shows that qualified overweight students, particularly females, are less likely to be accepted to college than their normal weight peers.
In the face of such overwhelming momentum, this prevailing stigma is rarely challenged, but research suggests we've been too narrow-minded with our views on weight.
Contrary to popular belief, being fat in and of itself may not be unhealthy.
Health professionals can make a difference by becoming aware of their own biases, developing empathy, and working to address the needs and concerns of obese patients. Schwartz MB, O’Neal H, Brownell KD, Blair S, Billington C.
Some specific strategies for health professionals are outlined below: 1. Weight-based discrimination in employment: Psychological and legal aspects. Weight bias among health professionals specializing in obesity.
Consider that patients may have had negative experiences with other health professionals regarding their weight, and approach patients with sensitivity 2.
Recognize the complex etiology of obesity and communicate this to colleagues and patients to avoid stereotypes that obesity is attributable to personal willpower 3.
Just take a look around: Our culture vilifies the idea of being “fat,” as evidenced by government initiatives, weight-loss fads, and everyday conversation.
The social consequences of being overweight and obese are serious and pervasive.
Overweight and obese individuals are often targets of bias and stigma, and they are vulnerable to negative attitudes in multiple domains of living including places of employment, educational institutions, medical facilities, the mass media, and interpersonal relationships. Stigma and bias generally refer to negative attitudes that affect our interpersonal interactions and activities in a detrimental way.
In fact, it might even offer health benefits—“fat” and “health” aren’t necessarily correlated in the ways we’ve all been led to believe.
Read on to learn why it’s time to take a new perspective on weight.Stigma may come in several forms, including verbal types of bias (such as ridicule, teasing, insults, stereotypes, derogatory names, or pejorative language), physical stigma (such as touching, grabbing, or other aggressive behaviors), or other barriers and obstacles due to weight (such as medical equipment that is too small for obese patients, chairs or seats in public venues which do not accommodate obese persons, or stores which do not carry clothing in large sizes).