People with obesity “shouldn’t look at this being their own fault...obesity is a chronic disease,” says a medical specialist. (iStock)

Bias, discrimination prevent people getting obesity care: study


Science shows that obesity is a chronic disease like diabetes or cancer, yet people living with it are being told “they did this to themselves, and that they don’t deserve to be supported,” says Dr. Arya Sharma, the scientific director for the non-profit Obesity Canada

Misconceptions abound, says doctor

He says a new survey shows there are many misconceptions among health care professionals, employers and people living with obesity.   The latter “shouldn’t look at this as being their own fault. This is something that happens to people in the same way that diabetes…or high blood pressure happens to people.  And when it happens…you need to get treatment that actually works,” says Sharma.

While exercise is good for everyone, it and diet change alone are not enough to treat obesity, says doctor. (iStock)

Better and long-term help is needed

He adds, too many doctors simply recommend a change of diet and exercise, but that is not enough to treat obesity. People may need medication, cognitive behavioural therapy and, in some cases, bariatric surgery. And they need to understand there is no cure and the disease will require lifelong management. There are strong biological reasons that weight returns after weight loss and it is a long-term battle to fight them.

Discrimination said to be ‘deeply ingrained’

Sharma says that weight bias and discrimination are “deeply ingrained among health care providers and employers and this is preventing people from accessing meaningful obesity care.” For example, employers often provide extended health benefits but don’t cover the cost of medications of psychological services to treat obesity. 

In Canada, there are some seven million people living with obesity and the incidence is projected to reach 30 per cent of the population by 2030.  The Canadian Medical Association and the American Medical Association have recognized as a chronic disease, but not everyone has. Sharma says it’s time for people to understand that obesity is a complex problem and they should start removing the obstacles people face in getting the care they need.

Dr. Arya Sharma describes obesity as a chronic disease which is misunderstood making it difficult for people to get treatment. (Obesity Canada)

Survey involved over 2,500 respondents

The Awareness, Care and Treatment in Obesity Management (ACTION) Study collected information from 2,000 individuals living with obesity,  395 doctors and allied health professionals who manage it, and 150 employers. Results were published in the journal Clinical Obesity in October 2019. 

Categories: Health, Society
Tags: , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available