Haqq AM, Kebbe M, Tan Q, Manco M, Salas XR. Complexity and Stigma of Pediatric Obesity. Child Obes. 2021 Jun;17(4):229-240. doi: 10.1089/chi.2021.0003. Epub 2021 Mar 29. PMID: 33780639; PMCID: PMC8147499.
Weight stigma is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of the origins of obesity, wherein the interplay of behavioral, environmental, genetic, and metabolic factors is deemphasized. Instead, the widespread societal and cultural presence of weight stigma fosters misconceptions of obesity being solely a result of unhealthy personal choices. Weight stigma is pervasive in childhood and adolescence and can affect individuals throughout their life. Although the prevalence of pediatric obesity remains high throughout the world, it becomes increasingly important to understand how weight stigma affects weight and health outcomes in children and adolescents with overweight or obesity, including in those with rare genetic diseases of obesity. We identified and reviewed recent literature (primarily published since 2000) on weight stigma in the pediatric setting. Articles were identified with search terms including pediatric obesity, weight bias, weight stigma, weight-based teasing and bullying, and weight bias in health care. In this narrative review, we discuss the stigma of pediatric obesity as it relates to the complex etiology of obesity as well as describe best practices for avoiding bias and perpetuating stigma in the health care setting.