Obese - copyright Francis Dean/REX

Obesity named most common form of discrimination

Thu 11 Oct 2018
By Cara Bentley

A Christian, GP and qualified nutritionist says obesity is rarely someone's fault. 

The World Obesity Forum have revealed the results of a survey about obesity and the stigma people face.

They found that weight was the most common form of discrimination in the UK - above race and gender - with 81% of adults polled believing people with obesity are viewed negatively because of their weight.

One in four admit they would hire a candidate with a healthy weight over an overweight candidate.

Dr Sue Kenneally is a Christian and a qualified nutritionist who helps people with weight management and runs Fit For Life Forever, a group with a 'Bible-based approach to fitness'.

She told Premier: "I think that compared with gender and race and various other things that we've been accused of causing stigma about, obesity is being viewed as being something that is somebody's fault. So, we look at someone who is bigger than we think they should be and we just think that they've done this to themselves and that it's all their fault.

She said this stigma was something health professional are trying to change: "We understand it really isn't, it's a societal thing, it's an environmental thing and as such what we're trying to say today is that it's really usually not people's fault and therefore it shouldn't be discriminated against in any way, in the same way that colour shouldn't be and race and gender and anything else".

At the same time, the levels of child obesity are at their highest ever, with 4-point-2 per cent of 10 and 11 year-olds are now classed as being severely overweight and medics saying that children should be taught that obesity in adulthood is not inevitable.

Regarding the health risks that being overweight cause, Dr Kenneally said: "If somebody walks into my practise room and they're clearly are very, very overweight then we both know that we both know it's a problem and so it's quite easy to steer the conversation around to 'are there any things you think could help with your health?' and very often people would say 'well, I know my weight is an issue' and then according to my training that I've done, the next thing I should do in that situation is ask for permission and say 'do you mind if we talked about that?

"The tricky thing is a lot of people who are obese don't realise that they are because these days it's almost a third of the population...then it's a lot more tricky because it's a much more sensitive subject."

She recommended always approaching the topic sensitively, if at all, and asking permission to talk about it first. And for those who want to get healthier, she said: "If you want to do something about it then your GP would be your first port of call and a lot of GPs these days have been trained to talk to people about their weight more sensitively."

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