Joint international consensus statement for ending stigma of obesity

Prof. Carel Le Roux, UCD School of Medicine and Fellow, UCD Conway Institute is a co-signatory on the joint international consensus statement for ending stigma of obesity published in Nature Medicine on World Obesity Day (4th March).

Individuals with obesity face not only increased risk of serious medical complications but also a pervasive, resilient form of social stigma. This statement calls for education about weight stigma to facilitate a new public narrative about obesity, coherent with modern scientific knowledge.

Professor Carel Le Roux, UCDPictured: Professor Carel Le Roux

Research indicates that weight stigma can cause physical and psychological harm, and that affected individuals are less likely to receive adequate care. For these reasons, weight stigma damages health, undermines human and social rights, and is unacceptable in modern societies.

To inform healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public about this issue, a multi-disciplinary group of international experts reviewed available evidence on the causes and harms of weight stigma and developed a joint consensus statement with recommendations to eliminate weight bias.

Their four point pledge highlighted the need to treat individuals who are overweight and obese with dignity and respect; to refrain from using stereotypical language, images, and narratives that unfairly and inaccurately depict these individuals as lazy, gluttonous, and lacking will power or self-discipline; to encourage and support educational initiatives aimed at eradicating weight bias through dissemination of current knowledge of obesity and body weight regulation; to encourage and support initiatives aimed at preventing weight discrimination in the workplace, education, and healthcare settings.

The expert panel included patient advocacy experts, an individual with obesity to speak on behalf of patients as well as 36 internationally recognised academics from scientific disciplines including endocrinology, nutrition, internal medicine, surgery, psychology and health policy. They worked with 10 international partner organisations including Diabetes UK, European Association for the Study of Obesity, International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders, and the World Obesity Federation.
Rubino, F., Puhl, R.M., Cummings, D.E. et al. Joint international consensus statement for ending stigma of obesity. Nat Med (2020).