Reducing Weight Bias

Women shopping for food


People in larger bodies may experience bias, bullying and discrimination in our society. This is known as weight bias.

Weight bias refers to negative attitudes, beliefs, assumptions and judgements towards people based on their weight, shape, or appearance. Weight bias is a result of our conscious and unconscious thoughts, feelings and attitudes about bodies and leads to unfair treatment.

People may experience weight bias:

  • In health care. Health professionals may exhibit weight bias towards their clients. This can leave clients feeling judged and they may avoid clinical care and screening as a result.
  • In the workplace. People report being ignored by coworkers and hearing negative comments and jokes about their weight.
  • At school. Weight based bullying is the most common type reported in the school environment. Weight bias among educators may influence academic performance as early as elementary school.
  • Within interpersonal relationships. In day to day interactions, seemingly positive comments about weight like (you’ve lost weight, you look so good!) are harmful because it labels people as good or bad based on their weight or size.
  • In the media. In entertainment media, characters in larger bodies are shown engaging in stereotypical eating behaviours, are rarely in romantic relationships, and are more likely to be the object of ridicule than “normal” weight characters. 

Weight bias affects physical, mental, social, and economic health in many ways. It decreases overall well-being and quality of life, creates barriers to accessing health care, and widens health inequities.

We know that all bodies are good bodies and health can be achieved at any size. Below are some resources to promote body confidence and reduce weight bias.

Weight Bias ResourcesBody Confidence

Learn how to build body positivity and reduce weight bias. Find resources for parents, educators, teens and community partners.

Webinar: Changing Our Approach to Weight

Learn more about why body image, body diversity, and weight stigma are health issues from dietitians Kendra and Jess

Additional Resources

The Health Unit offers a range of nutrition programs, resources, and services to promote healthy eating throughout the lifespan and create supportive nutrition environments in the community.

Mental health is an important part of our overall health. There is no health without mental health. Mental health and physical health are related and affect each other. Review the Health Unit's resources on mental health. 

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