Position Statement: Body Shaming and Weight Prejudice in Public Endeavors to Reduce Obesity
(January 30, 2012) There is a growing concern within the global community of eating disorders professionals about body shaming and weight prejudice in public endeavors to reduce obesity (see, for example, this recent NEDA press release). While efforts to improve public health and well-being are applauded, it is of concern when shame, blame and ridicule are used for such a purpose. Research points to the adverse impact of body shame, which is associated with eating pathology. Also concerning is the parent-blaming evident in many awareness-raising campaigns about childhood obesity.
As a global professional association committed to leadership in eating disorders research, education, treatment and prevention, the Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) condemns such approaches and urges the media, health-care and governmental organizations to focus on health-promoting behaviors, eschew a narrow focus on weight and take care to avoid messages that promote weight-based stigma.
The AED has published guidelines that highlight ways to address childhood obesity without doing harm, which may be accessed through the AED website.