Weight stigma is understood as neglect of those who do not fit with social standards of weight and discrimination based on their appearance.
There’s a common argument that weight stigma, being a body-motivated phenomenon, tends to result in changes in the body, namely an increased level of stress hormone. Subsequently, too much cortisol brings about problems in metabolism and more weight gain.
Additionally, humans tend to cope with stress by using psychoactive drugs, typically alcohol and nicotine, which also lead to poorer metabolism and other countless harmful factors.
Some scientists claim that the stigma is somehow responsible for a 60% increase in the risk of death.
The argument suggests that it is the stigma that is responsible for such a horrific number and not the factors listed above nor the numerous health problems that obesity itself brings about.
How to Eliminate Weight Stigma?
The first necessary step in tackling any issue is to recognize its existence. It is especially important because there’s an ongoing argument around the problem of obesity and its stigmatization.
Another action that needs to be taken, according to some experts, is to change the language we use to speak about the issue. Language is believed to influence society’s attitude towards minorities, such as people suffering from obesity.
In Western medicine, there’s a tendency to avoid certain pre-established words and phrases in the hope of reducing the stress that those people experience, being identified with their disorder rather than personality.
Thus, some experts agree that there’s an important difference between the terms “obese person” and “person with obesity,” and we should all use the second option.
Stigma in healthcare
Recently, there’s been a number of studies claiming that the fatphobic bias among physicians is responsible for severe negative health consequences for people suffering from obesity. It is said to be another factor in which stigma harms public health.
Moreover, it seems to be advisable to refrain from common advice to eat more healthily and do more sports as the only option. These are two universal key factors yet don’t remotely cover the whole issue in its complexity. There are numerous environmental, psyche-related, hormonal, and genetic aspects that contribute to the public health issue.
Generally, in order to overcome the stigma, professionals and non-professionals ought to avoid emotional language, which is said to be responsible for blaming the patient and refrain from biased and premature assumptions on such a complex issue.