Weight Bias

Weight issues, including those attributed to poor nutrition and lack of exercise, can lead to negative psychological consequences. These consequences include lowered self-esteem and anxiety, as well as more serious conditions such as depression and eating disorders. We also know that being overweight is more than a health and appearance issue - it leads to weight stigma, social discrimination and may even affect employability.1 Some ideas:

  • Include the topic of obesity as part of diversity training for staff and students, to reduce weight stigma and improve attitudes on center. Encourage all students and staff to become aware of their own biases and to develop empathy for students with weight concerns. Questions to consider for students and staff to ask themselves:
    • Do I make assumptions based only on weight regarding a student's character, intelligence, success, health status or lifestyle behaviors?
    • Am I comfortable working with or socializing with students of all shapes and sizes?
    • Am I sensitive to the needs and concerns of overweight students?
    • Do I give appropriate feedback to overweight students to encourage healthy behavior change?
    • Do I understand that being overweight is a complex issue that involves the integration of social, behavioral, cultural, physiological, metabolic and genetic factors?
  • Work with students who show warning signs for an eating or body image disorder.
  • Encourage Career Counselors completing the Social Intake Form to be aware of weight concerns and to explore the areas of depression and self-esteem. If applicable, refer to the Center Mental Health Consultant for clinical assessment.

 


Source

1 Sarlio-Lahteenkorva, S., Silventoinen, K., & Lahelma, E. (2004). Relative weight and income at different levels of socioeconomic status. American Journal of Public Health. 94(3), 468-472.