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Weight Bias and FAT TALK


In support of Weight Bias Awareness Week, I would like to share the facts from the Binge Eating Disorder Association’s (BEDA) press release in hopes that more people, especially parents, role models and educators will help diminish the FAT TALK in schools and at home as well as encourage youngsters to get involved with the powerful programs that Chevese Turner, CEO of BEDA has created.

“FAT TALK” is talk that implicitly or explicitly reinforces the thin ideal standard of female beauty. According to Carolyn Costin, Medical Director of Monte Nido Treatment Center, research by Stice et al, 2003, shows that 3 – 5 minutes of FAT TALK significantly increases body dissatisfaction, a key risk factor for the development of eating disorders.

“Weight stigmatization is widespread in our society and affects individuals in multiple domains of life, often on a daily basis,” says Rebecca Puhl, Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. She goes on to say: “We know from decades of research that children and adults are targets of weight stigmatization in educational institutions, employment settings, health care facilities, the media, and even from family members and friends. This has a devastating effect on people’s quality of life, and leads to numerous consequences for emotional and physical health.”

To respond to this, BEDA has created and announced its first annual National Weight Stigma Awareness Week, September 26 – 30, 2011. The objectives of this event are to build awareness of what weight stigma is, the harmful effects weight stigma can have on people of all ages in all environments, and what can be done to halt it.

The call to action for BEDA’s first annual Weight Stigma Awareness Week is “Healing Myself First: Challenging Weight Stigma from the Inside Out.” BEDA encourages people to participate in several activities BEDA proposes as part of Weight Stigma Awareness Week, beginning with looking within to assess personal weight biases and becoming an advocate.

It is being suggested to start with asking ourselves: “Did I make fun of other kids when I was a child because they were overweight? Do I look down on myself or others because of size? Do I contribute to FAT TALK such as: ‘I need to lose 10 pounds’ or ‘You look great! Have you lost some weight?’” Once an honest self-inquiry is made, begin to make changes in thinking and communicating. Perhaps start with viewing oneself and others from the “inside” ~ noticing personal qualities such as kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion ~ and comment on these qualities. This is a process, so allow each “noticing” of FAT TALK to be a learning experience and an opportunity to make a change.

For more information about BEDA’s first annual Weight Stigma Awareness Week, visit www.bedaonline.com. And for more information about the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, visit: www.yaleruddcenter.org.

Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) is a national organization focusing on the need to increase prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for binge eating disorder. According to BEDA’s news release dated September 21, 2011, as the obesity problem rages on in our culture and the $60 billion weight loss industry continues to grow, paradoxically, rates of obesity are not decreasing and eating disorders are rapidly increasing. Sadly, eating disorders have the highest rate of mortality of all mental illnesses and affect more women than breast cancer.

Clearly it is time to take action. Start today: become informed and educated and take a step, make a change ~ millions of lives are at stake.

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