7 Steps to Reduce Weight Stigma Within Your Practice

Weight stigma is pervasive in most health care settings. As Diabetes Specialists, we have an opportunity to recognize our own biases and take a leadership role in decreasing weight stigma in our work settings.

Last month, Healio Endocrine Today interviewed clinical nutrition manager, Lisa Hodgson, RD, CDN, CDCES, to get her perspective on how health care professionals can address weight stigma within their practice and support long-term healthy behavioral modifications for people living with diabetes. For many, staying motivated to maintain long-term changes can be difficult.

As Hodgson explains, “Weight stigma projected onto people with diabetes by clinicians may lead them to avoid seeking medical care. It may also perpetuate binge eating and overeating, limit physical activity, encourage disordered eating and foster physiological stress.”

These stigmatizing attitudes among providers are often reflected in their interactions with the individuals they treat, which can have negative impacts. That is why it is so important for each of us to address and unlearn our own biases around weight.

7 Steps to Reduce Weight Stigma Within Your Practice

  • Use person-centered, encouraging, and respectful language free of judgment
  • Create a safe space by asking about and addressing situations where the person experienced weight stigma
  • Address emotional eating and offer healthier coping strategies such as meditation, yoga or mindful eating techniques
  • Identify what is important to an individual and develop action plans around these areas
  • Use past successes to inform a plan for ongoing behavioral changes 
  • Customize interventions based on a person’s access to resources and their preferences
  • Measure individualized goals at each visit and adjust plan over time

Helpful Resources

  • Joint international consensus statement for ending stigma – The ADA announced that they and over 100 professional societies and medical journals are taking the “pledge to eliminate weight bias and stigma.
  • Evaluate your Weight Bias –Harvard’s Project Implicit – Project Implicit is a non-profit organization that provides international collaboration between researchers interested in implicit social cognition – the thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. The goal of the organization is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet.
  • Language & Diabetes Free Webinar – Learn how to uplift your people by choosing language that is non-judgmental and person-centered.

To read the full interview and to get more tips from Lisa Hodgson, click here.

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