The Problem of Weight Bias

Obesity is an increasingly common concern in American society, and is becoming a global problem.  For any of multiple reasons, more and more individuals are reaching extremely high BMIs and are unable to lose the extra and potentially dangerous weight.  While a great deal of focus is given to the obesity epidemic and its negative consequences, there are other potentially more detrimental problems that are being ignored.  According to the Obesity Action Coalition, the experience of obesity brings with it problems of bias, stigma, discrimination, and emotional concerns.  The OCA has highlighted the reasons that lead to bias and stigma towards obesity:

Perceptions that obesity:

  • Is caused by a lack of self control
  • Is caused by emotional problems
  • Can be prevented by self-control

Unfortunately, these perceptions influence the way that people treat obese individuals.  Researchers have documented weight, bias, and stigma in multiple settings, including work and educational settings.

Employment Settings:

Obese individuals are given unfavorable treatment in terms of hiring, promotions, and salary.  They are also perceived as being less competent than their non-obese counterparts.


Biased and negative treatment against obese individuals begins as early as preschool.  Children/teenagers who suffer from obesity face rejection and teasing from their peers.  Teachers consider them to be more emotional and less likely to succeed than their non-obese peers.

The problem with weight bias is that it has potentially severe negative consequences for those who experience it.  Outcomes can be psychological, social, or physical:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Rejection from others
  4. Poor academic outcomes
  5. Binge-eating
  6. Lack of exercise

Obesity as an epidemic is an extremely critical issue that cannot be left alone.  Society’s perception of it and peoples beliefs about obese individuals, however, are both harmful to attempts to improve the obesity situation.  Weight bias is a real concern that has negative affects on the obese, and that perpetuates the problem very severely.  Because of this, it’s very important that on the individual level we do our best to maintain a healthy weight and balanced lifestyle, and to change any negative perceptions we have about obesity.  By working on the small scale, we can hope to achieve greater change in society, and to tackle the problem of obesity head on.  If you’d like to learn more about obesity prevention and attitudes towards it, talk to our weight loss consultant today!