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Dismantling Weight Bias

By Amber Charles, MSPH, RDN

February 2, 2021

Losing weight is not the cure for an incurable disease. Appropriate medical and nutritional interventions need to be the focus of healthcare.

Wix/stock images

Weight Bias: What is it?

Lisa is "obese" with type 2 diabetes.

Mary has a "normal weight", but also has type 2 diabetes.

Lisa is told to lose weight to manage her diabetes while Mary is given medical interventions specific to diabetes management.

That, in a nutshell, is #weightbias (in healthcare).

It is the stereotyping and discrimination against those persons in 'larger bodies', simply based on their weight alone.

It is the negative attitude and beliefs about persons who are overweight or obese.

In a weight-focused healthcare system, this poses several challenges.

Weight Bias: The Dangers

Large or small body, you can have high cholesterol.

Large or small body, you can suffer from a chronic condition.

The point is that weight bias robs some individuals of the opportunity to learn and self-manage their health. Instead of treating the medical condition itself, weight loss becomes the focus.

In turn, weight bias perpetuates disordered eating patterns, such as binge eating or food avoidance to engage in unhealthy weight control practices (#faddiets).

Not only is it an issue of social inequity, it also is a low-blow that can trigger depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, poor body image and suicidal acts & thoughts.

The fallacy that losing weight is the solution to happiness and ultimate health is the work of #dietculture (read more here).

Health at Every Size (HAES®)

According to the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDH):

"The Health At Every Size® (HAES®) approach is a continuously evolving alternative to the weight-centered approach to treating clients and patients of all sizes. It is also a movement working to promote size-acceptance, to end weight discrim