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The need to end stigma and discrimination based on physical size and weight

At noon today, Dr. Sharma, Dr. Mary Forhan and Ian Patton presented at the Manitoba Legislature on their work on obesity and the need for improvements in the way we approach obesity.


Ian Patton, Public Engagement Coordinator with Obesity Canada MC'd the event.  James Teitsma, MLA for Radisson spoke to give greetings and to emphasize the importance of ending discrimination.   Wab Kinew, MLA for Burrows and Leader of the NDP spoke to bring greetings and to emphasize the importance of treating people fairly and that "fat shaming" - the practice of shaming people who are fat is counterproductive as it hurts the very people it is trying to help.  Dougald Lamont, MLA for St. Boniface, also brought greetings and spoke about the need to design our health care system for everyone including those who are short or tall or have large or small bodies.  He gave an illustration in fighter pilots where it worked much better to design for everyone and did not work well when things were just designed for the average person.


Dr. Arya Sharma, Professor of Medicine and Chair of Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta in Edmonton talked about the need to change our health care system to overcome bias and discrimination in obesity care and to treat people with obesity fairly, equitable and with kindness and compassion just like those who are not obese.  He emphasized the need to provide improved help and support for those who have large bodies.   He said there is too much "self blame" by people who are obese, and emphasized the need to create an environment where there is more understanding of the reasons for obesity and improved help for those who are obese. 


Dr. Mary Forhan, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta has been looking at ways to ensure people with large bodies are accommodated within our health care system. Dr. Forhan is an occuptational therapist and she has been doing work with people in Medicine Hat to look at how best to accommodate and help those who are obese within our health care system.  She emphasized the need to make our buildings and our diagnostic imaging tests available to those who have large bodies.  She emphasized the need to address the "social oppression" experienced by those who are obese, and to make changes in policy, in buildings and in the curriculum in our schools, and the need to train doctors and other health care professionals in looking after those who are obese. She said "If we can provide a safe care environment which works for people we can prevent nurses having back injuries from trying to life those who have large bodies and we can get people who are obese up more quickly after surgery and save a lot of health care dollars in the process.  She talked about how those who are obese too often are uncomfortable visiting their doctor because they feel they will be fat shamed.  She emphasized the need to educate doctors so that someone living with obesity is as comfortable in seeing a doctor as anyone else.


This evening at 6:30 pm Dr. Sharma and Dr. Forhan will be talking at a public meeting at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on "The Right to be Treated: Overcoming Bias and Discrimination in Obesity Care.  All are welcome to come.    For more information click on this link.
https://obesitycanada.ca/con-events/the-right-to-be-treated-overcoming-bias-discrimination-in-obesity-care/


Photos from the event
Dr. Arya Sharma


Dr. Mary Forhan
Ian Patton


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