Irish participants join European campaign to fight stigma of obesity

Irish participants join European campaign to fight stigma of obesity

Irish participants join European campaign to fight stigma of obesity

(Left to right) Vicki, the Executive Director of the European Coalition for People Living with Obesity, and her son Josh who is 18 and lives with obesity. He speaks about how he hates people staring at him because of his weight.

A number of Irish people have been selected as role models for a European campaign that aims to help fight the stigma and change people’s attitudes about obesity.

The European Coalition for People living with Obesity (ECPO), has created a new European image bank containing professional photographs that can be used by media outlets in place of stigmatizing images that can often be featured instead.

Members of the Irish Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ICPO) have been chosen to feature in the campaign and their images available from the image bank.

The Murphy family. Both Deirdre and her husband had bariatric surgery which they believe saved their lives. They are part of the members of the Irish Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ICPO) who have been chosen to feature in the campaign that is aimed at helping to curb the stigma around obesity.
The Murphy family. Both Deirdre and her husband had bariatric surgery which they believe saved their lives. They are part of the members of the Irish Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ICPO) who have been chosen to feature in the campaign that is aimed at helping to curb the stigma around obesity.

“Unfortunately, many images that appear in newspapers perpetuate stereotyped portrayals of people living with obesity and reinforce the social acceptability of weight bias,” said Susie Birney, Executive Director of ICPO.

“They fuel the belief that people with obesity have a lifestyle disorder and are lazy, non-compliant, gluttonous, or have no willpower, despite obesity being recognised as a disease by the World Health Organisation.” 

ICPO Members Ben Whelan, Yvonne Byrne and Deirdre Murphy are among 16 of the new image bank models involved.

Ben has had bariatric surgery and has had back problems from a young age while stigma meant that Yvonne struggled to go in front of the camera.

Deirdre and her husband both had bariatric surgery which they believe saved their lives.

The Irish photos have been chosen from over 1,000 images received from across 10 European countries.

“As with other forms of stigmatisation – on the grounds of race, class, ability, gender, or sexual orientation – obesity stigma can have devastating social and health impacts,” according to Dr Jean O’Connell, Chair of the Association for the Study of Obesity in Ireland.

Marion who is one of the members of the ICPO who are included in the new image bank that aim to help to curb the stigma around obesity.
Marion who is one of the members of the ICPO who are included in the new image bank that aim to help to curb the stigma around obesity.

“Weight bias and stigma have significant physiological and psychological consequences, leading to low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, increased risk of eating disorders, as well as poor metabolic health and further weight gain.” 

Dr O’Connell added that weight stigma is particularly prevalent in healthcare settings, which can impact those accessing care for obesity and other health conditions.

The ECPO campaign has the support of the World Health Organization (WHO).

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