Time to end obe­sity stigma

Obese peo­ple are viewed neg­a­tively

Cape Times - - METRO - STAFF WRITER

ONE in three peo­ple ad­mit they would hire a job hope­ful with a healthy weight over an over­weight can­di­date.

This while nine in 10 adults be­lieve peo­ple with obe­sity are viewed neg­a­tively be­cause of their weight.

These are some of the find­ings re­leased by the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion SA to co­in­cide with World Obe­sity Day.

This year’s theme is “It’s Time to End Weight Stigma”, and the foun­da­tion said new re­search showed that 89% of adults be­lieve peo­ple with obe­sity are viewed neg­a­tively be­cause of their weight, and 84% be­lieve peo­ple are likely to dis­crim­i­nate against some­one who is over­weight.

This is higher than other forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion, in­clud­ing sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion (78%), eth­nic back­ground (75%), or gen­der (55%).

“The find­ings show that peo­ple with obe­sity ex­pe­ri­ence stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion across all as­pects of their lives.

“Three in five South African adults liv­ing with obe­sity have felt judged be­cause of their weight in clothes shops or in so­cial sit­u­a­tions and, wor­ry­ingly, about half have felt judged in health-care set­tings (52%) and gyms (44%),” the foun­da­tion said.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion child­hood obe­sity is one of the most se­ri­ous global pub­lic health chal­lenges of the 21st cen­tury.

They said in 40 years the num­ber of school-age chil­dren and ado­les­cents with obe­sity has risen to 124 mil­lion in 2016.

In­ter­na­tional obe­sity ex­pert Pro­fes­sor Carel le Roux said World Obe­sity Day was an op­por­tu­nity for South Africa to be the moral com­pass of the world.

“The im­pact of weight stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion is far-reach­ing.

“It can dam­age ca­reer prospects, with nearly one in three South Africans (30%) ad­mit­ting that out of two equally qual­i­fied can­di­dates they would ap­point the one with a healthy weight over an over­weight can­di­date.

“Stigma also has phys­i­cal and men­tal health con­se­quences: it’s been found to de­ter peo­ple from seek­ing med­i­cal care and can lead to so­cial iso­la­tion,” Le Roux said.

Dr Bianca van der Westhuizen, nu­tri­tion sci­ence man­ager at the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion SA said dis­crim­i­na­tion to­ward obese per­sons posed nu­mer­ous con­se­quences for their psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal health.

More in­for­ma­tion to help com­bat weight stigma can be found on www. worl­dobe­sity.org.

Stigma has phys­i­cal and men­tal health con­se­quences and can also lead to so­cial iso­la­tion

Pro­fes­sor Carl le Roux

In­ter­na­tional Obe­sity ex­pert

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