U of A researcher finds rising trend of obesity discrimination

Don't skip breakfast if you want to lose weight, experts say.
Don't skip breakfast if you want to lose weight, experts say. Getty Images

A University of Alberta researcher believes obesity discrimination is as common as racism.

Ximena Ramos-Salas, who is also the managing director at Obesity Canada, tells the Alberta Morning News discriminating against someone based on their weight has been a growing issue for decades. She says people can lose out on promotions, may be paid less, or might even have their comments ignored by physicians because they are overweight.

Ramos-Salas blames stereotypes for the discrimination.

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“Our cultural bias is that having a larger body means, stereotypically, that you don’t take care of yourself, you don’t eat healthy, you don’t exercise regularly.”

“In our society, we tend to think that having a larger body makes you a bad person.”

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But she says exercise and diet aren’t the only factors in gaining weight. She also says there’s genetic, psychological and biological aspects that play a role.

Ramos-Salas says there’s also a problem in the health care system, where some aren’t educated on the surgical treatments or medications people with obesity can take to manage their health.

“There’s lots of strategies to help people living with obesity to help manage the weight, but instead they don’t hear about them.”

“Instead, they hear the same message, ‘Go home, eat less, move more. If you don’t do it, you’re going to live shorter, you’re going to die’.”

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She suggests policies that prevent weight-bias attitudes, similar to policies in the Alberta Human Rights Act against discriminating someone based on their age, race, or gender.