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Psychologists report states obesity stigma must stop

Healthcare professionals are being urged to avoid weight stigmatising and insensitive remarks when it comes to treating people with obesity.

A report published by the British Psychological Society has stated that although obesity can be linked to behaviours it does not always involve choice, personal responsibility or a lack of willpower.

The authors have recommended clinicians look at improving sensitivity of language. One of the ways recommended is to use terms such as “people living with obesity” rather than labelling someone as obese.

They said: “It is important to avoid language and explanations that locate the ‘problem’ of obesity within individuals.”

29% of UK adults are living with obesity according to figures from 2017. Having obesity is one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

The report stated: “Obesity is not simply down to an individual’s lack of willpower. The people who are most likely to be an unhealthy weight are those who have a high genetic risk of developing obesity and whose lives are also shaped by work, school and social environments that promote overeating and inactivity.

“People who live in deprived areas often experience high levels of stress, including major life challenges and trauma, often their neighbourhoods offer few opportunities and incentives for physical activity and options for accessing affordable healthy food are limited.”

Diabetes Digital Media is one of the organisations that is helping people to develop lifestyle changes that can help towards significant weight loss. The Low Carb Program has shown that people that complete the program lose 7.4kg on average after one year.

Dr Angel Chater, author of the report, said: “If the treatment for obesity was easy, we wouldn’t be here and wouldn’t have written this report.

“You might have the best willpower in the world, but if you don’t have access to the right food, the right environment, the best start in life… it will be tough.”

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