Europeans living with obesity call for an end to weight discrimination

Europeans living with obesity call for an end to weight discrimination

New image bank will shift perceptions and fight stigma.

October 21, 2021 – A major campaign to address weight bias and obesity stigma is being launched today by 20 patient organisations across 27 European countries.

To mark Living with Obesity and People First Day, the European Coalition for People living with Obesity (ECPO) and its members are calling for an end to weight-based discrimination and stigma. The image bank has been developed to help change people’s attitudes to overweight and obesity.

This is the first Europe-wide image bank of photographs of people living with obesity. More than 250 professionally taken and free to use photos are immediately available to support editors in selecting less stigmatising images for use in newspapers and magazines. The photos, taken in various settings, were chosen from more than 1,000 submitted by nearly 100 models from 12 countries.

“Unfortunately, many images that appear in newspapers perpetuate stereotyped portrayals of people living with obesity and reinforce the social acceptability of weight bias,” says ECPO President Sólveig Sigurðardóttir. “They fuel the belief that people with obesity have a lifestyle disorder and are lazy, sloppy, and have no willpower, despite recognition of obesity as a disease by WHO.”

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

“The initiative by ECPO of launching an image bank for the media with non-stigmatising images of people living with obesity is a great initiative and in line with WHO European Office for Europe’s recommendations for its Member States to create new standards for the portrayal of individuals with obesity in the media,” says Kremlin Wickramasinghe, acting head of the WHO European NCD Office. “This image bank will be very useful for Member States and all other stakeholders to create these standards and for the media itself to use these non-stigmatising images.”

Throughout Living with Obesity and People First Day, members of ECPO and national organisations will be taking to social media in various European languages, raising awareness around weight discrimination across society and even within healthcare settings.

“Not unlike other forms of stigmatisation – on the grounds of race, class, ability, gender, or sexual orientation – obesity stigma can have devastating social and health impacts,” says Sólveig Sigurðardóttir. “Weight bias has significant physiological and psychological consequences, leading to increased depression and anxiety, eating disorders, and low self-esteem. And in healthcare settings it can also affect the quality of care for patients with obesity.”

Sixteen new image bank models share their stories in today’s issue of ECPO’s Eurobesity Magazine. Join ECPO this evening (19:00 CEST) for a live Patient Lounge

The ECPO European Image Bank: from 03:00 CEST on 
October 21)

The ECPO patient Lounge event:

For the latest issue of Eurobesity magazine and two new educational infographics on how can we face externalised and internalised stigma and how to prepare for a medical (available from 03:00 CEST on October 21)

For more information on stigma:

For more information on ECPO and its members: