Nine out of 10 obese people say they have been fat shamed because of their weight, according to a new survey.
The report ‘The current landscape of obesity services’ was compiled by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity. A total of 1,450 people with obesity took part in a survey which informed the report.
The survey showed that 88% of people reported having been “stigmatised, criticised or abused” for their obesity. It is troubling that, in a country in which most adults (63%) are overweight or obese, we cannot talk about weight without negative reactions.
The extent of fat shaming is a problem as these negative reactions make it that much harder for people. Many people wish to lose weight and this can be very difficult when regularly being treated poorly by others. Shame can play a part in weight gain and adding more shame on top does the opposite of helping.
The survey also highlighted problems with accessing services to help with weight loss. Only 26% reported that they were treated with dignity and respect by healthcare professionals (HCPs) and 42% of people did not feel comfortable discussing their weight with their GP.
The figures show that communication and approachability have significant room for improvement in how people with obesity are supported.
A total of 39% of respondents found it either “incredibly or moderately difficult” to access lifestyle services. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that more than one in three people stated that they had not accessed any lifestyle services.
The report recommends that: “Obesity/weight management training be introduced into medical school syllabuses to ensure GPs and other HCPs feel able and comfortable to raise and discuss a person’s weight, without any stigma.”
Furthermore, the authors state that access to services needs to be available to all. Chair of the group, Andrew Selous MP, said: “It is unacceptable that people with obesity can seek advice from their GP only to find local commissioners have not put in place any services. We want to see the NHS provide an appropriate and uniform service to people with obesity across the country.”
A lot of progress is being made to widen the access to services, however, the report outlines that there is still some way to go before people have the right level of support and services available.

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