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Obesity and Prejudice
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, May 2010

Public attitudes about fat tend to be judgmental. Worse, stigmatizing people who are obese is commonplace, potentially inflicting psychological, emotional, and even economic harm. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, an advocacy organization established in 1969, maintains archives of stories from people who charge job loss or lack of promotions to negative attitudes about obesity.

Stigmatization facilitates the belief that something is inherently wrong with people who are large. Negative attitudes and judgment increase the likelihood that people who are obese will be ostracized. Additionally, many people attribute negative personality characteristics to those who are obese. Such attitudes are not based in fact, and do considerable harm. Judgmental, prejudicial attitudes are ineffective in promoting change and, more importantly, are disrespectful to the person. Instead of targeting people who are obese, our focus needs to be on connecting with one another as human beings, encouraging overall health and wellness for everyone.

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