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Weighing In On The Obesity Bias

by Anne Spencer | May 31, 2013

For immediate release:
May 31, 2013

WEIGHING IN ON THE OBESITY BIAS
Fitness Professionals’ Role in Changing the Fitness Landscape

Indianapolis – Overweight and obese individuals commonly face bias and discrimination in many areas of their lives, including health and fitness settings. In a session at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 60th Annual Meeting in Indianapolis fitness professionals will learn more about weight bias, its intrusion of health and fitness locations and strategies to reduce weight bias.

The effects of weight bias are vast. Those who experience this have a number of negative psychological, physical and behavioral issues including low self-esteem, increased stress, eating disorders and physical inactivity. Health and fitness professionals have an opportunity to provide safer environments for adult and children who are overweight or obese.
“Negative stereotypes of overweight and obese individuals do nothing to promote good health,” said Christy Greenleaf, Ph.D., one of the lead researchers of the study. “Health and fitness professionals are in ideal positions to promote physical activity and the enjoyment of physical activity for people of all shapes and sizes.”

Traditionally, health and fitness professionals are trained to focus on the physical and behavioral aspects of exercise and physical activity. Greenleaf’s presentation will challenge the audience to consider psycho-social aspects of overweight and obesity -- specifically weight bias -- and how attendees, as health and fitness professionals, can play a role in changing the fitness landscape.

”This is an understudied area,” said Greenleaf. “One of the most pressing needs is in the area of bias reduction.” She noted that, currently, there is not much empirical evidence regarding effective reduction of weight bias or effective strategies for buffering or lessening the effects of weight bias.

If health and fitness professionals are to be effective at promoting physical activity, said Greenleaf, it is imperative to better understand weight bias and to identify and implement strategies to reduce or buffer the effects.

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The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. The 60th ACSM Annual Meeting brings more than 6,000 physicians, scientists, educators, students and others to the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis May 28-June 1. At the same time, the third World Congress on Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) will convene some of the world’s leading physical activity and health experts to build on the global charter launched in 2010. EIM sessions are held at the Indianapolis Westin.

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and
should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports
Medicine. Research highlighted in this news release has been presented at a
professional meeting but has not been peer-reviewed.

The American College of Sports Medicine 60th Annual Meeting is going on now at the
Indiana Convention Center.

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