Weight Stigma

Angie Szumlinski News

Across the world, it remains legal to discriminate against people because of their weight. The scope of anti-discrimination laws has offered protection for socially stigmatized groups who are treated unfairly for characteristics viewed as “immutable”, such as race, whereas societal views of body weight continue to perpetuate notions that weight is both changeable and an individual’s fault, and therefore, undeserving of protection.

Sadly, this discrimination doesn’t start when we graduate from college, there is evidence that weight-based bullying is prevalent in young people, and policies against such action are pretty much nonexistent. Although most school districts across the country have anti-bullying policies, the language often fails to consider bodyweight, leaving youth inadequately protected from weight-based bullying. I remember my mom telling me once that “kids are cruel”. Fortunately, I didn’t suffer with bullying of any kind as a young person, but it is heartbreaking to think that it is happening!

How does that affect our post-acute care setting? Take a look at your referrals. How many referrals do you see with a bariatric diagnosis? Many of our centers are not equipped to manage the level of care required. Is that discrimination or a business decision? Think it through, if you are turning referrals away for weight status, is it because you can’t provide the care? Let your conscience be your guide, let your budget dictate equipment needs and maybe, just maybe you could be that center that says “yes” we can take one or two residents with a bariatric diagnosis, remember, they need care too, but only if you are prepared with appropriate equipment and training! Stay well, stay informed, and stay tuned!

Read more about worldwide weight-based bias from Medpage Today.