Weight Bias Research: Moving beyond raising awareness and creating change!

Weight bias is defined as negative attitudes toward and beliefs about others because of their weight. Weight bias is manifested through stereotypes and/or prejudice toward people with overweight and obesity. Ultimately, the enactment of weight bias attitudes and prejudice against people with obesity that can cause exclusion, marginalization, and lead to health and social inequities. Under the umbrella of Obesity Canada, formerly the Canadian Obesity Network (CON), the EveryBODY Matters Collaborative works to advance weight bias research and action in Canada. In May 2016, this interdisciplinary collaborative worked with stakeholders including individuals living with obesity, researchers studying weight bias, health professionals and knowledge translation experts to host the 3rd†Canadian Weight Bias Summit. Unlike previous summits, which focused on raising awareness about weight bias (2011) and identifying research gaps (2015), the 3rd†summit (2016) took a more practical, action‑oriented approach to reduce weight bias in healthcare, education and public policy.

Using a brokered dialogue method, the summit explored the following questions:

  • How? (Explanation): How is weight bias experienced, addressed and contested by individuals living with obesity, health professionals and other obesity stakeholders?
  • What? (Description): What are some weight bias reduction interventions and resources available in Canada?
  • So What? (Synthesis): What are some common messages, strategies, principles and language used from existing weight bias research that we can all agree will advance changes in practice and policy?
  • Now What? (Action): How can we incorporate these messages, strategies, principles and language into future weight bias reduction interventions?

The summit deliverables included: a) An inventory of weight bias reduction interventions and approaches available in Canada; b) A set of common messages and strategies from existing weight bias interventions that can be used/evaluated in future research and knowledge translation initiatives by stakeholders; and c) A clear plan of action for stakeholders to tailor these common messages and implement them into future weight bias interventions in practice and policy.

The outcomes of the 3rd Canadian Weight Bias Summit have been published in Obesity Reviews.