S1E3: The Effect of Weight Stigma on Health

Weight Stigma, and stigma in general, is an intricate and complicated subject that permeates the society we live in. We are all affected in some way by stigma, whether we are the subject of stigma, perpetrators of stigma, or both. Stigma also has a significant effect on long term health, making it an important subject for medical professionals to address personally and systemically.


In this week’s episode, we will discuss the 7 Weight Stigma Myths (As outlined in Body Respect):

  • Fatness leads to decreased longevity

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) is a valuable and accurate health measure

  • Fat plays a substantive role in causing disease

  • Exercise and dietary restriction are effective weight-loss techniques

  • We have evidence that weight loss improves health

  • Health is largely determined by health behaviors

  • Science is value free


"The only thing anyone can accurately diagnose when looking at a fat person is their own level of weight prejudice."                                    - Marilyn Wann


Questions to Consider:

  1. Did you recognize your own assumptions when listening to the stigma myths?

  2. Have you experienced weight stigma?

  3. Can you start paying closer attention to language and attitudes around weight?

  4. How can you create a safer space for people who are inundated with weight stigma on a daily basis?

  5. What would happen if you considered someone’s size was not their fault?  



  • Bacon L, Aphramor L. Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books; 2014.
  • Klein S, Fontana L, Young V. Absence of an effect of liposuction on insulin action and risk factors for coronary heart disease. ACC Current Journal Review. 2004;13(8). doi:10.1016/j.accreview.2004.07.105.
  • NCHHSTP Social Determinants of Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/socialdeterminants/faq.html. Published March 21, 2014.
  • Strohacker K, CARPENTER K.C., MCFARLIN B.K. Consequences of Weight Cycling: An Increase in Disease Risk? International Journal of Exercise Science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241770/. Published July 15, 2009.
  • Olson MB, Kelsey SF, Bittner V, Reis SE, Reichek N, Handberg EM, Merz CN (2000). Weight cycling and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in women: evidence of an adverse effect. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 36: 1565–1571.    
  • Who's fat? New definition adopted. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9806/17/weight.guidelines/. Published June 17, 1998. 
  • T. A. Wadden, Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 May; 14(5): 737–752. (Look AHEAD)

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