People living with excess weight face a myriad of challenges to their health.
Discrimination and weight biases are daily challenges for most of them and it is paramount to reduce this in order to support them.
Weight bias refers to negative attitudes and views about obesity and people living with this chronic illness. Internalised weight bias, or self-directed bias, is the extent to which individuals living with obesity endorse negative weight-biased beliefs about themselves, this is an unfortunate consequence of focused discrimination.
Weight bias has negative consequences and leads to shame and blame. It can also generate anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem and negative thoughts about their own body image that can lead to unhealthy weight-control practices.
Recent studies have proven that individuals who have experiences discrimination in the past may be more reluctant to seek health care and this generates a vicious cycle that leads to lower quality of care.
In order to improve the care of individuals living with excess weight we have to generate trust and satisfaction with their care. The first step of change is to reflect on our own beliefs and attitudes related to obesity. On a larger scale we need more resources on policy making on this issue.
If you have been a victim of weight discrimination:
Talk to your doctor about managing internalised wight bias. Bias can impact your behaviours and your health. Self-stigma and self-blame can be addressed through behavioural interventions, consistent with the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy.
Focus on improving your overall health rather than being fixated in reducing your weight. Don’t forget, your weight is just a measurement and a healthy life transcends this.
I understand your frustration and embedded stigma. Don’t forget, obesity is not caused by lack of willpower and the medical profession is here to support you all the way.