Obesity Stigma and bias

We live in an obesogenic environment, the CDC report from 2017-2018 indicated 42.5% of adult Americans live with obesity. If we include adults who are overweight and living with obesity, we are at 73.6% of the population. Yet when looking around at our world, things like airplane seats, waiting room chairs, desk job or cubicle areas, they are all designed for small people. Almost half of Americans require or would be more comfortable in larger chairs, larger cubicles, larger sidewalks. Why doesn’t our environment reflect our needs? Obesity bias as defined by the OAC is negative attitudes, beliefs, judgement, stereotypes and discriminatory acts aimed at people because of their weight.

We don’t always see or recognize the subtle bias but it affects us regardless. Imagine your perfect job, suppose this job is in the downtown of a very large city. All the surrounding apartments and houses are out of your price range. The job does not come with parking, your parking option is a parking garage that charges 40$ daily. Another option is public transport and is much more affordable. The problem? Public transport is not built for larger bodies. It can be very uncomfortable and a source of stress, especially if the bus or train is packed and other passenger express hurtful comments because you’re taking up “too much room”. When this happens too often we blame ourselves, we think it’s our fault.

Public Transports are not built for larger bodies.

We should not take responsibility for the lack of adaptation from our environment. After all every year they make bigger and bigger cars, why can’t they adapt the rest? Obesity stigma is a big issue, every time we feel the world isn’t made for us because of our size is an example of it. The fastest way to stop it is by speaking up, demand to get what you need to be comfortable. Having obesity is not your fault, nobody would blame someone for developing cancer, they should not blame you for developing obesity. Don’t feel like you’re on your own, remember back in 2018 42.5% of American were living with obesity and we know it’s trending upwards. If you’re looking for support and a community check out the obesity action coalition!

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