What is Weight Stigma Awareness week?

How do you feel about your body shape and size? Do you judge a person by their weight?

The Binge Eating Disorder Association recognizes September 24-28 as National Weight Stigma Awareness Week. BEDA’s goal is to bring awareness to the way we judge ourselves and others based on weight.

Sandy Blaies, Manager of the Eating Disorder Program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital says “Our society values thinness and perpetuates societal messages that obesity is the mark of a defective person.

We place a value on the size and shape of our bodies. We uphold stereotypes of body image and assume a person is healthy or unhealthy based on their weight. I am always careful of telling a young person they look thinner. Instead, focus on how the color they are wearing looks good on them, or how you love their smile. What you say matters.”

According to the RUDD Report from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, close to one of three overweight girls and one of four overweight boys report being teased by peers at school. Among the heaviest group of young people, that figure rises to three out of every five.

Peers see obese children as undesirable playmates who are lazy, stupid, ugly, mean, and unhappy. Negative attitudes begin in pre-school and may get worse as children age.

Those who are victimized because of their weight are more vulnerable to depression, low self-esteem, poor body image, unhealthy weight control practices and suicidal thoughts. Also, weight-based teasing makes people more likely to engage in unhealthy eating patterns.

Weight stigma can also lead to social isolation, poorer interpersonal relationships, and self-blame by those who are targeted. BEDA warns that many of these consequences can lead to eating disorders.

Sandy Blaies suggests “We should focus on health measurements that are more meaningful than numbers on a scale. Use an approach which is less about dieting and more about a lifestyle change that emphasizes “intuitive eating”: listening to hunger signals, eating when you’re hungry, choosing nutritious food over junk.

In addition, encourage exercise, but for its emotional and physical benefits, not as a way to lose weight. It advocates tossing out the bathroom scale and loving your body no matter what it weighs.”

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services

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5 thoughts on “What is Weight Stigma Awareness week?

  1. Even though it is important to focus on something positive about the persons looks,it is important that we say something to them when they are not taking care of themselfs,like severe obese for example,but we have to be very sensitive how we say things to them

  2. Hi,
    This post interests me because of the Aurora strategic work being done with the Live Well program. We are emphasizing achieving a healthy (healthier?) weight as one of the three “pillars” of the program (healthy weight / activity, tobacco-free, and routine health screenings). You and your readers might be interested in an excellent HBO series available on line, “The Weight of the Nation”. It does focus on measuring and monitoring weight as a means to improved health. We will be introducing a number of weight related initiatives for our caregivers late 2012 and early 2013.
    Thanks
    Dave Smith – VP Care Management

    • I completely disagree with Weight being a “pillar” for our Live Well Program. Unlike smoking, weight isn’t something we can simply quit. Or as easy as obtaining a health screening. It is a daily struggle for most. For me personally, to achieve my weight goal, I would have to completely cut down on calories as time mangement doesn’t allow me to exercise every day. I feel it is unruley of a company to hold caregivers to a specific weight to be eligible for any incentive. I could see a weight counseling or such, but not specific weight guidelines.

      • Hello Ann, This article was focused on Weight Stigma Awareness Week, and the stigma applied to people based on weight. It certainly does identify measuring indicators other than weight (i.e. blood pressure, cholesterol, etc) to assess health. thankyou for reading. Laura

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