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Binge Eating Disorder Association launches third annual National Weight Stigma Awareness Week

September 24, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) has launched its third annual National Weight Stigma Awareness Week (WSAW). It spans September 23 through September 27, 2013. This online event will help build awareness of what weight stigma is, the harmful effects weight stigma can have on people of all ages in all environments, and what can be done to stop it.

Activities on the BEDA website will include: posts from featured bloggers from across the globe providing their insight on a variety of weight stigma issues; toolboxes providing support tools and references for treatment providers and families dealing with weight stigma and BED; a Tweetchat with Dr. Ralph Carson; webinars; and a Keynote Address featuring Brian Cuban, author of Shattered Image. Additionally, there are expert video presentations, a meme-hunt to be held using the Facebook pages of the event Supporting Organizations, and participants can network on hot topics at the Facebook event page titled Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2013.

"We must continue to raise awareness around weight stigma and how focusing on weight rather than health and valuing smaller sizes can, in fact, have a negative effect on the physical and mental health of a person-of-size—especially those who have or are predisposed to eating disorders," says Chevese Turner, CEO of BEDA.

Afflicting more women than breast cancer, eating disorders have the highest rate of mortality of all mental illnesses, according to a press release.  They are complex disorders triggered by environmental factors, and studies have shown that weight stigma is one of the major triggers.

"We know from decades of research that children and adults are targets of weight stigmatization in educational institutions, employment settings, health care facilities, the media, and even from family members and friends. This has a devastating effect on people's quality of life, and leads to numerous consequences for emotional and physical health.  Reducing weight prejudice requires shifting societal attitudes, challenging media portrayals of obesity, debunking pervasive weight-based stereotypes, and pushing for legislation to protect individuals from weight discrimination. These are ambitious, but necessary goals if we are to eradicate weight bias," explains Rebecca M. Puhl, Ph.D, Deputy Director at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University.