Obesity stigma real and prevalent

April 10, 2014, University of New Mexico
Joe Nadglowski, president and CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition, displays a slide that illustrates visual portrayals of obese adults in online news videos.

(Medical Xpress)—Well-known obesity expert Joe Nadglowski, president and CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition, recently visited the University of New Mexico and presented two informative lectures related to obesity. Sponsored by the UNM Department of Psychology in response to an obesity issue that arose in the department, Nadglowksi talked about how obesity affects every facet of life for obese individuals.

"Weight bias penetrates every facet of life for individuals affected by the disease of obesity. Education, employment, healthcare and more are all areas where folks find themselves targeted by bias," Nadglowski said. "Obesity is a complex disease, and weight bias often hinders an individual's ability to take the necessary steps to improve their quality of health."

Nadglowski described the cycle of obesity that involves health consequences, increased medical visits, bias in healthcare, negative feelings, avoidance of healthcare, unhealthy behaviors and poor self-care and also talked about its prevalence in education, healthcare and the workplace.

Defined as medical condition, obesity is considered one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. It's a condition where body fat has accumulated to the point where it could have a negative effect on one's health. And it has. It's estimated that 10 percent of U.S. medical costs are tied to obesity. It's also one of the most preventable causes of death worldwide. The portrayal includes 72 percent of images and 65 percent of videos that stigmatize .

Medically speaking, obesity increases the possibility of any number of diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 Diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea and a number of cancers as well. In terms of patient care, are less likely to seek medical attention including pelvic exams, mammography, cancer screens and are more likely to cancel exams, delay appointments and or preventive care services.

"Patients feel berated and disrespected by providers and get upset by comments about their weight from their doctors," Nadglowski said during the lecture. "They perceive that they will not be taken seriously and report that their weight is blamed for all their problems. Additionally, they are reluctant to address weight problems."

In the workplace, the numbers are troubling with obese workers experiencing prejudice 43 percent of the time from employers and 54 percent of the time from co-workers. Obese people often cite inequitable hiring practices, lower wages, prejudice, wrongful job termination and disciplinary action. In terms of pay, data shows that women's wages are 61 percent lower, while men's wages are 34 percent lower.

The bias is also prevalent in education where obese students experience extensive peer victimization at school, bias by teachers and administrators and institutional-level weight bias.

"In a recent study of graduate school applications, the data showed that despite having higher quality letters of recommendation, those with a higher BMI were less likely to receive admission offers after once they had completed in-person interviews," Nadglowski said.

Nadglowski also offered some advice about interactions with obese people including: keeping weight bias on the agenda, increased attention to weight bias and its consequences, using respectful language, avoiding approaches that shame and blame, focus on specific health behaviors, remove the stigma from existing efforts and finally, fight obesity, not people with .

Explore further: Over a lifetime, childhood obesity costs $19,000 per child

Related Stories

Over a lifetime, childhood obesity costs $19,000 per child

April 7, 2014
Childhood obesity comes with an estimated price tag of $19,000 per child when comparing lifetime medical costs to those of a normal weight child, according to an analysis led by researchers at the Duke Global Health Institute ...

Overweight physicians are also vulnerable to weight bias

March 20, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Overweight patients are not the only ones who suffer weight stigmatization in the doctor's office, a Yale study finds. Physicians who are overweight or obese are vulnerable to biased attitudes from patients ...

Future doctors unaware of their obesity bias

May 23, 2013
Two out of five medical students have an unconscious bias against obese people, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The study is published online ahead of print in the Journal of ...

Public supports disability and civil rights legal protection for obese people

April 10, 2014
Public support for policies that prohibit weight discrimination and even provide disability and civil rights protection for obese individuals has grown in the past few years, according to a new study by researchers from the ...

Obesity prevalence remains high in US; no significant change in recent years

February 25, 2014
The prevalence of obesity remains high in the U.S., with about one-third of adults and 17 percent of children and teens obese in 2011-2012, according to a national survey study in the February 26 issue of JAMA.

Obesity rates triple in Canada

March 5, 2014
(HealthDay)—Like their neighbors to the south, Canadians are getting fat.

Recommended for you

Where you live may influence whether you are overweight, study finds

January 23, 2018
The old real estate adage of "location, location, location" may also apply to obesity.

Evening hours may pose higher risk for overeating, especially when under stress, study finds

January 16, 2018
Experiments with a small group of overweight men and women have added to evidence that "hunger hormone" levels rise and "satiety (or fullness) hormone" levels decrease in the evening. The findings also suggest that stress ...

Bariatric surgery prolongs lifespan in obese

January 16, 2018
Obese, middle-age men and women who had bariatric surgery have half the death rate of those who had traditional medical treatment over a 10-year period, reports a study that answers questions about the long-term risk of the ...

Sugar-sweetened drinks linked to overweight and obesity in children, adults: Analysis of new studies

December 23, 2017
A new review of the latest evidence on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)- which includes 30 new studies published between 2013 and 2015 (and none of them industry sponsored) - concludes that SSB consumption is associated with ...

As income rises, women get slimmer—but not men

December 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—A comprehensive survey on the widening American waistline finds that as paychecks get bigger, women's average weight tends to drop.

Policy and early intervention can curb obesity rates

December 18, 2017
More information and emphasis on dietary lifestyle changes that prevent obesity, and its comorbidities, have not reduced the rise in obesity in U.S. adults and adolescents, according to a recent study in the New England Journal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.