Weight Bias

Weight bias is negative attitudes and stigmatization towards individuals based on their weight. Unfortunately fat shaming is pervasive in our society, across the workplace, education, media, among family members and even friends. There are misconceptions that obesity can be prevented by self-control and that it is caused by a lack of willpower. Employees affected by obesity are viewed as less competent, lazy and lacking in self discipline by their co-workers and employers. 

The bias extends in healthcare settings even among professionals who specialize in the treatment of obesity, having an impact on the quality of healthcare for individuals affected by obesity. This often prevents such marginalized individuals from seeking medical care.

Weight bias and discrimination can have a serious and negative impact on the  psychological, social and physical health of individuals affected by obesity.  At Obesity Matters we support these individuals to become advocates for themselves and take action to reduce barriers and transform societal attitudes.

While weight bias is prevalent in media, entertainment, healthcare, employment and education, it also needs to be addressed in language. Obesity Matters along with other obesity-focused organizations in the community, are raising awareness of a new initiative titled People-First Language.

People-first language refers to treating people having disabilities with equality, respect and compassion.  They are people first living with a disability instead of the other way around.  An example of this would be, referring to a person ‘living with obesity,’ rather than, ‘obese’ person.  Obesity Matters encourages employers, educators and caregivers to use people-first language in verbal and written communication.  Below are some more examples of ‘people first language.’

  • Person with developmental disability, instead of ‘retarded.’
  • Person with cancer, instead of ‘cancerous.’
  • Person with epilepsy, instead of ‘epileptic.’
  • Person with speech impairment, instead of ‘dumb.’

One of Obesity Matters’s mandates is to reduce stigma and weight bias against Canadians living with obesity and we encourage you to get involved and join us in our efforts.