Obesity Stigma: Causes, Consequences, and Potential Solutions.

TitleObesity Stigma: Causes, Consequences, and Potential Solutions.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsWestbury, S, Oyebode, O, van Rens, T, Barber, TM
JournalCurr Obes Rep
Date Published2023 Mar
ISSN Number2162-4968
KeywordsBody Weight, Humans, Obesity, Social Behavior, Social Stigma, Stereotyping

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review aims to examine (i) the aetiology of obesity; (ii) how and why a perception of personal responsibility for obesity so dominantly frames this condition and how this mindset leads to stigma; (iii) the consequences of obesity stigma for people living with obesity, and for the public support for interventions to prevent and manage this condition; and (iv) potential strategies to diminish our focus on personal responsibility for the development of obesity, to enable a reduction of obesity stigma, and to move towards effective interventions to prevent and manage obesity within the population.

RECENT FINDINGS: We summarise literature which shows that obesity stems from a complex interplay of genetic and environment factors most of which are outside an individual's control. Despite this, evidence of obesity stigmatisation remains abundant throughout areas of media, entertainment, social media and the internet, advertising, news outlets, and the political and public health landscape. This has damaging consequences including psychological, physical, and socioeconomic harm. Obesity stigma does not prevent obesity. A combined, concerted, and sustained effort from multiple stakeholders and key decision-makers within society is required to dispel myths around personal responsibility for body weight, and to foster more empathy for people living in larger bodies. This also sets the scene for more effective policies and interventions, targeting the social and environmental drivers of health, to ultimately improve population health.

Citation Key13155
PubMed ID36781624
PubMed Central IDPMC9985585