If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could
have a bias against people who are overweight or have obesity.
Do you assume a person’s health,
characteristics, behaviours and abilities are
based on their body size, weight and shape?
People come in different sizes and shapes.
Body size, weight and shape are not directly
associated with a person’s health, work ethic,
willpower, intelligence or skills.
Do you think that everyone with a larger
body size or a higher BMI has obesity
and needs to lose weight?
Obesity is a chronic disease defined as excess or
abnormal weight that impairs health. BMI is an
indicator of size, not health. Not everyone with
a large body size or high BMI has obesity.
Do you believe people with obesity are
personally responsible for their condition?
Many people think obesity can be controlled by simply eating healthier
and being more active. But more than 300 factors contribute to obesity,
ranging from physiological and psychological factors to genetic, social and
environmental factors. Many of these are beyond an individual’s control.
Do you let negative comments
about someone who has a
larger body size or has obesity
Calling attention to inappropriate,
blaming or shaming jokes,
comments or conversations about
people with obesity or larger
body size is important to reduce
Do you avoid being around people
you think have obesity?
Many people avoid being around
people with obesity due to negative
social stereotypes. But people with
obesity can be as ambitious, strong-willed, active, disciplined, attractive,
quick, strong, secure and confident
as anyone else.
Weight bias is everywhere. And sometimes we may have it
without knowing it. These questions can help you become more
aware of your attitudes and beliefs about weight and obesity.
Yes No 1 2
Dr. Mary Forhan, PhD, is an assistant professor, Dept. of Occupational Therapy,
Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. Ximena Ramos
Salas is a public health doctoral candidate at the University of Alberta and
managing director of the Canadian Obesity Network.
Checking your attitude
Test your assumptions
WRITTEN BY XIMENA RAMOS SALAS AND MARY FORHAN