Health Impacts of Weight Stigma

Weight stigma: causes and effects

weight stigma
Image courtesy of World Obesity


Weight bias refers to the negative ideologies associated with obesity.

Weight bias → Weight stigma

Weight stigma refers to the discriminatory acts and ideologies targeted towards individuals because of their weight and size.

What can weight stigma look like?

  • Implicit
  • unsolicited suggestions to exercise or subtle WL advice
  • unsolicitored recommendations eg “ you a waist”
  • backhanded compliments eg “you have such a pretty face”
  • perpetuating false stereotypes
  • micro-aggressions eg rolling eyes, tutting
  • Explicit
  • Opinions from high profile people/industry eg Rebel Wilson
  • Job descriptions
  • Verbal taunts
  • Physical abuse
  • Blamed for equipment/clothing malfunction
  • Inequity: education,workforce…

Consequences of weight stigma

weight stigma

What can we do?

  1. Use people first language i.e. people living with obesity
  2. Use non stigmatizing images
  3. Language matters: tone and content
  4. Stick to the scientific facts
  5. Focus on gain in health not just weight loss
  6. At an individual level:
    • Audit your life
    • Talk back to yourself
    • Speak up if you can

weight stigmaweight stigma
Images courtesy of World Obesity image bank

weight stigma

  • The University of New South Wales
  • Obesity Australia
  • ANZMOSS – Australian & New Zealand Metabolic and Obesity Surgery Society
  • Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society
  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • Care Specialist
  • Strategic  Centre for Obesity Professional Education
  • World Obesity