Worldwide, one in seven people are living with obesity - and by 2035, it could be as many as one in four people. 

In the UK, the picture isn’t much brighter; levels of obesity in the United Kingdom are expected to reach 63.9%. Obesity is on the rise globally, and efforts to address it are challenging due to misconceptions around obesity and the role it can play in a person’s health

With the theme of this year’s World Obesity Day being “Let’s Talk About Obesity”, we caught up with the clinical team at Simple Online Pharmacy, who are one of the top direct-to-patient weight loss clinics in the UK, helping over 100,000 people on their weight loss journey. 

According to Simple Online Pharmacy dietitian Laura Perez, Member of the BDA and ASNADI, Spanish Association of Dietitians, said: “It is important that we tackle the stigma that surrounds obesity, and promote inclusion and respect towards people living with obesity. As a dietitian, I need to highlight the importance of talking about the complexity of obesity, correct misconceptions and take effective and corrective action."

So what can we do to reduce the stigma around obesity? For instance, avoiding the term “obese” - they are people with obesity.

Do not assume that because a person is living with obesity, they aren’t trying to look after themselves or their health. Obesity is very complex and depends on many factors - each person develops obesity for different reasons.

Do not associate weight loss with success and weight gain with failure. These concepts only encourage the development of eating disorders.

Having a healthy diet does not mean restriction or having forbidden foods. Do not judge people for what they eat. Obesity cannot be simplified to “eating healthy” and “exercise”.. 

Obesity isn’t about willpower. Simple Online Pharmacy CBT Psychotherapist Kirsty Fernandez says “Rather than seeing obesity – or even the people themselves – as the problem, obesity can be seen as a symptom of deeper-seated issues which are complex in nature, including psychological experiences, inherited cognitive and behavioural patterns, and trauma, and so the importance of open conversations cannot be understated”. 

To change perspectives on obesity, we need to;      

  • Replace patronising messaging with real, educational content about what keeps us stuck in these cycles.  
  • Move towards holistic healthcare that connects physical and mental health.
  • Have open conversations to work together to demystify our health and wellbeing. 

A 100% increase in obesity is expected in children by 2035; with no easy answers and many variables that don’t allow a single set of solutions, it can only be beneficial to open up dialogue around this topic in the pursuit of lowering these numbers.

Brought to you by Blavo Fahim at Simple Online Pharmacy