As blogged previously, there is a high risk of weight bias and discrimination in the medical community against people who carry excess weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. This stigma is hurtful, and can be downright dangerous, as it can result in people with obesity delaying or avoiding medical care due to a fear of being judged or stigmatized by their health care providers.
Obesity Canada has recently published a Call To Action on this important topic, with a list of 10 things that health care providers, policy makers, and researchers can do during the COVID-19 pandemic to combat and prevent weight bias and obesity stigma. This Call To Action was developed with input and support from a long list of obesity organizations around the world, including the World Obesity Federation, The Obesity Society (USA), The Obesity Medicine Association (USA), and the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO).
Here are some of the key points from the Call To Action (I encourage everyone to please have a read through all 10 recommendations) with some editorial comments from me:
- Recognize that weight bias may prevent people living with obesity from reaching out for help with COVID-19 symptoms, which could result in more severe disease and greater needs for ICU care.
- Reflect on your own attitudes related to people with obesity, and how this may affect your behaviours.
- Avoid stigmatizing language and practices (eg use the word ‘obesity’ as a diagnosis; never use the word ‘obese’ as a description of a person)
- Do not make assumptions about a person based on their weight.
- Make sure you have properly sized equipment in clinical rooms (BP cuffs, examination tables, chairs, etc).
- Research on the implications of obesity during COVID-19 is important. (important point: recording the diagnosis of obesity is often missed when a patients presents with coronavirus, making it very difficult to accurately assess and understand)
- Research is needed to understand the impact of COVID-19 on obesity prevalence and obesity-related complications. (as blogged previously, for many people, this pandemic is likely to result in weight gain)
Subscribe to my blog (box top right) for more on COVID-19 in the coming weeks.
Share this blog post using your favorite social media link below!
Follow me on twitter! @drsuepedersen
www.drsue.ca © 2020