Today, 11th October, is World Obesity Day.
Each year the organisers, the World Obesity Federation, focus upon a different aspect of the issue, with this year being weight stigma.
In 2017 they touched upon how we needed to make changes immediately since the number of adults suffering from overweight and obesity continued to rise with trends in 2017 indicating that 2.7 billion adults worldwide will suffer from overweight and obesity by 2025.
2016 saw their focus being upon the data which indicated infant, childhood and adolescent obesity is rising around the world.
Making the 2018 issue one of weight stigma could not of been taken without strong consideration, since there are few research tests that would suggest that being overweight is beneficial & so there’s going to be a clear need to tread a fine line between guiding people towards reducing their weight from unhealthy levels whilst not demonising them for the weight they’re are at currently.
It’s never appropriate to name-call or be disparaging about someone for their weight, nor should we assume they’re lazy or don’t care about themselves, since having worked with many clients around weight issues I know all of those statements would be false.
It’s also important to ensure nobody is discriminated because of their weight and their suggestion of focusing on ‘people-first’ language, such as “you have obesity” as opposed to “you are obese” is a much better way of speaking, rather like “you’re someone who gets anxious” instead of “you’re an anxious person”.
Statistically speaking, only a very small percentage of the population engage in regular exercise, however, it’s those people who’s images appear when advertising sports centres or fitness clothing, which can act to deter those who aren’t anywhere close to that ‘perfect’ body stage from ever beginning an exercise programme or to make changes to their diet.
Sometimes, to begin with, it’s all a client can do to take a 5 minute walk once a day, and to be ‘fat shamed’ wherever they look can act to stop them from going through the long-term necessary steps to improve their health and well being.
It’s going to be interesting to see whether the suggestions that the World Obesity Federation have suggested will help to improve the situation, hopefully it will, but go some way to begin to bridge the gap between on the one hand highlighting the benefits of reducing weight whilst not shaming the person themselves for the weight they would benefit from losing.
I’d be interested to hear what people think about this – comment below or get in touch direct if you’d like to discuss your own situation in confidence.