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Every BODY is Welcome: Size Inclusiveness for Health Promotion
October 24, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
The UWO Student Health Center and Women’s Center welcome Dr. Christy Greenleaf and doctoral student Caitlyn Hauff from UW-Milwaukee.
Can you determine if someone is healthy, motivated or competent simply by looking at them? Many people believe that a person’s physique is representative of internal character and personal attributes. A lean body is assumed to be disciplined, motivated, competent and, therefore, healthy; whereas, a fat body is thought to be lazy, incompetent, gluttonous and, therefore, unhealthy. Although these assumptions are inaccurate, overweight and obese individuals are common targets of negative stereotypes, bias and discrimination. Even professionals knowledgeable about the complexities of weight management are not immune to these pervasive negative stereotypes. Doctors, nurses, dieticians, physical educators and fitness leaders report believing that overweight and obese individuals are lazy, do not comply with instruction and do not really want to change their behaviors.
Not surprisingly, overweight and obese individuals indicate that health and fitness settings are environments in which they experience weight-based stigma and discrimination. Unfortunately, experiences of weight stigma are associated with a myriad of negative psychological, social and behavioral issues, including increased depressive symptoms, decreased self-esteem, increased social isolation, delayed medical care, avoidance of physical activity and binge eating. Health and fitness professionals play an important role in creating size inclusive environments that support health-promoting behaviors.
Raising awareness, developing empathy, being thoughtful about language and imagery, considering the built environment and advocating for socially just and size inclusive approaches to health promotion are strategies to create health settings where every BODY is welcome.