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April 15, 2024

New “Supportive Obesity Care” Website for Healthcare Professionals

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Our society can be hostile toward people with obesity who commonly face judgment, prejudice, and unfair treatment in their daily lives. This problem extends to the healthcare setting, where patients can face weight bias and stigma from physicians, nurses, psychologists, dietitians, medical students, and even healthcare professionals who specialize in obesity.

To respond to increasing calls for education about weight stigma in the medical community and strategies to improve health care experiences for patients with larger body sizes, the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health and Eli Lilly and Company have launched “Supportive Obesity Care” - a new educational website for healthcare professionals. This free, evidence-based resource seeks to educate clinicians about the damaging effects of weight stigma on patients, raise awareness of how weight stigma manifests in the healthcare setting, and offer practical strategies to improve supportive patient care.

“Our research shows that when people feel stigmatized about their weight by a healthcare professional, this can compromise their health, reduce the quality of their care, and lead them to avoid healthcare in the future,” said Dr. Rebecca Puhl, a Professor at the University of Connecticut and the Deputy Director of the UConn Rudd Center. “The goal of this website is to equip healthcare professionals with knowledge and tools to provide more respectful, supportive, and compassionate care to patients of all body sizes.”

The Supportive Obesity Care website includes evidence-based videos, podcasts, handouts, and self-reflection activities, providing strategies applicable in everyday clinical practice. This includes resources on how to engage in supportive communication with patients about weight-related health, ways to create an inclusive and welcoming office environment, and how to explain obesity pathophysiology to patients. The site also features resources from patient and clinician perspectives to help demonstrate how healthcare providers can put these tools into practice.

“Our aim is to provide these resources in an accessible and useful way for healthcare professionals to implement in their clinical practice and for education and training of students in professional health disciplines,” said Puhl.

To learn more, please visit the Supportive Obesity Care website.