Saturday the 4th of March marked World Obesity Day
Saturday the 4th of March marked World Obesity Day, an annual campaign which aims to help people better understand the complex nature of obesity. This year, the theme for World Obesity Day was ‘Changing Perspectives: Let’s Talk About Obesity,’ with the overall goal of ending the stigma associated with obesity, correcting common misconceptions, and moving from close-minded attitudes to shared strategies around obesity.
In keeping with this theme, the All-island Obesity Action Forum, a group of 31 organisations across both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland which the Irish Heart Foundation is a member of, outlined steps for the forum’s members to take to help challenge the damaging attitudes that contribute to obesity stigma.
Weight is just one of many indicators of health.
Obesity stigma is a term that is used to describe the negative beliefs that are often associated with obesity, including bias, social exclusion, stereotyping, and discrimination. Obesity stigma can be experienced by people living with obesity in a variety of settings in their everyday life, from the workplace, to healthcare, education, to the media, and personal relationships. Obesity stigma can lead to negative physical and mental health consequences for people living with obesity, such as lower self-esteem, social isolation, unhealthy eating behaviours, and delays in seeking medical care.
A number on a weighing scales can also change how many people feel about themselves. Negative attitudes and stereotypes about what the number on the weighing scale means can lead people to have ‘internalised stigma,’ where an individual living with obesity begins to apply negative attitudes about obesity and weight to themselves.
" Obesity is influenced by a broad range of environmental, cultural, genetic, psychological, commercial and social influences."
Orna O'Brie, Registered Dietician with the Irish Heart Foundation
Weight is just one of many indicators of health. According to Orna O’Brien, dietitian with the Irish Heart Foundation, “Obesity is influenced by a broad range of environmental, cultural, genetic, psychological, commercial and social influences. Factors like a person’s sleep pattern, bowel habit, physical activity level, fruit and vegetable intake, mood, alcohol intake, water intake and stress level all have a signficant impact on overall health.” She stresses the importance of focusing on building healthy habits, rather than solely focusing on the number on the weighing scales.
If you are interested in building healthy habits or would like to speak to a professional about your health, contact your local GP for guidance towards having a healthy diet and lifestyle, and if needed, onward referral to a weight management programme or appropriate health professional service.
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