Weight bias exists in health care settings, causing harm for patients who have a higher body weight. Research studies show that patients with obesity face biased attitudes from physicians, nurses, psychologists, dietitians, medical students, and even professionals who specialize in obesity. Some professionals within these groups perceive patients with obesity to be lazy, lacking in willpower, unmotivated to improve health, and noncompliant with treatment. When patients feel judged or stigmatized about their weight, this can lead to lower trust of their healthcare providers, poorer treatment outcomes, and avoidance of future health care.
The Rudd Center has developed free, online educational resources for health care providers to help improve the quality of care for patients with obesity and reduce weight bias in clinical practice.
The Rudd Center has created two online learning modules for the World Obesity Federation to further educate providers about the consequences of weight bias for health and healthcare. These modules highlight the importance of addressing weight bias in broader health communication both within and outside of the medical setting.
Weight Bias Toolkit: This toolkit is designed to help clinicians across a variety of practice settings with easy-to-implement solutions and resources to improve delivery of care for overweight and obese patients. The resources are designed for busy professionals and customized for various practice settings.
Informational Handouts & Resources
For clinicians working with patients who have obesity, this resource provides an overview of the harmful health consequences of weight bias, and summarizes strategies to improve provider-patient communication and increase awareness of personal biases that could unintentionally compromise patient care.
For your patients:
For Pediatric Providers
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH) has launched a free accredited training series for pediatric and adolescent healthcare providers. This online series, created by the Rudd Center’s Dr. Rebecca Puhl, offers evidence-based strategies for compassionate, targeted weight management and obesity prevention in girls. Physicians, doctors of osteopathy, dietitians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses will earn 1 CME/CEU credit for completing each 1-hour training module. Part 1 of the series consists of two training modules:
- Improving Care for Adolescent Girls: The Importance of Addressing Weight Bias »
- Child and Adolescent Weight Management: Guidelines, Guidance, and Goals »
American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement Addressing Weight Stigma:
Presentations & Other Tools
University of Oxford, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology: This lecture by Rebecca Puhl, from the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, explains the damaging impact of weight stigma.
The diaTribe Foundation d20 Lightning Talks brought together five leaders in the field to explore the impact of diabetes stigma and what can be done to end it. Dr. Puhl's talk examined the impacts of disease stigma and what can be done to address it.
UK Association for the Study of Obesity: This international talk, given for the UK Association for the Study of Obesity, provides a summary of the evidence on health consequences of weight stigma.
Business Group on Health Podcast: Weight bias is a pervasive problem in our society, showing up in our homes, physician offices and even the workplace. But weight bias isn’t just a social injustice, it’s also a public health issue due to its far-ranging effects on those who experience and internalize it. In this episode of the Business Group on Health podcast, Dr. Rebecca Puhl joins to talk about the consequences of weight-based blame and shame on patients, employees and children, as well as how we can recognize and reduce weight bias.
The Leading Voices in Food Podcast: Dr. Rebecca Puhl joined Dr. Kelly Brownell, Director of the World Food Policy Center at Duke University, for two episodes discussing weight stigma. The first explains the consequences of weight stigma and the different types of stigma that exist. The second dives further into the issue to explain what might be done to prevent weight stigma and how to reduce its impact.
Weight-Related Conversations Knowledge Transition Casebook: This practical guide is designed to help healthcare professionals have positive weight-related conversations with children and their families.
Produced by The Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, this tool equips physicians with skills for building a safe, trusting environment with patients and facilitating productive conversations about weight.
Video: Weight Bias in Healthcare
The Rudd Center has produced an educational video to educate healthcare providers about weight bias. Research evidence suggests that using this video as an educational intervention may be effective in helping to reduce stigmatizing attitudes among students and future healthcare professionals. Specifically, researchers found that trainees who viewed the video and engaged in a discussion increased their beliefs that obesity is caused by multiple factors (and not simply under personal control), and decreased negative stereotypes about patients with obesity.These videos are owned by the Rudd Center. We welcome you to use the videos in trainings and presentations and link to this web page.