Obesity is a disease. But we continue to treat people living with obesity like it’s their fault. We wouldn’t blame our friends, family, and neighbors if they were living with a mental illness or suffering from cancer. And we need to stop blaming people living with obesity.
Obesity is due to complex interactions between genes, development, and the environment and has many different causes.
Obesity puts millions of Americans at greater risk for life-threatening illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and COVID-19. A single solution won’t work for millions of people — we have to stop pretending it will.
It’s time to work across sectors and industries to meet this challenge. It’s time to focus on what individuals need to secure better health. It’s time to interrupt the conversation and confront the disease of obesity together.
“She should try going on a diet.”
“Obese people are lazy.”
“If he just exercised more, he wouldn’t be obese.”
Eating less and exercising more doesn’t work for everyone. There’s no one size fits all solution. Obesity is a complex disease and must be treated like one.
Because obesity is a disease someone is living with, it’s important to use people-first language: someone isn’t obese, someone has obesity. Describing the disease this way helps avoid weight bias and stigma.
“Building more parks will solve obesity.”
“Ending food deserts will solve obesity.”
“Our sedentary lifestyle and processed foods are to blame for obesity.”
While access to outdoor space and healthy food is one part of the equation, it isn’t the only policy solution for solving obesity—a complex disease—on a broad scale. There are many different strategies because no one person is the same. Rather than targeting one specific policy solution, we need to work across sectors and industries to meet this challenge.
“Have you tried cutting out carbs?”
“Skipping breakfast will help you lose weight.”
“This isn’t like other diets.”
Beauty isn’t about one shape. It’s about feeling healthy. Healthy food plays a role in fighting obesity, but harmful fad diets don’t offer real, lasting solutions. Healthy comes in all shapes and sizes. That’s why a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work to fight obesity — a disease that puts millions at risk for heart disease, cancer and COVID-19.
“I can never exercise enough for it to make a difference.”
“I’m always dieting, but I just gain the weight back. Why don’t I have any willpower?”
“I exercise and eat healthy but I can’t lose weight. What’s wrong with me?”
Obesity is a disease and it’s not your fault. It’s not a matter of willpower. Healthy diet and exercise play an important role, but for many people they aren’t enough — no one solution will work for everyone. There is a continuum of evidence-based treatment options for obesity, just like there is for diseases like cancer and mental illnesses. But unlike with other diseases, many people aren’t aware that these treatments are available.