PRESS RELEASE: 1-22-13 Bioethics Leader Calls for Bold Approach to Fighting Obesity
Daniel Callahan finds a lesson in the anti-smoking campaign.
In “Obesity: Chasing an Elusive Epidemic,” an article in the Hastings Center Report, Callahan says that what he calls “stigmatization lite,” if used carefully, could provide an important strategy in the strikingly unsuccessful effort to help the 67 percent of Americans who are overweight or obese lose weight. He cites estimates that no more than 10 percent of those who try to lose weight succeed in the long run.
Callahan does not deny that stigmatization can do harm, such as increasing the risk of discrimination in the workplace and health care. But he believes that that risk would be minimized by “stigmatization lite,” in which people who are overweight consider the threat of discrimination itself as a danger to be avoided: “don’t let this happen to you!” His aim is to complement, not replace, public health strategies that would bring to bear a strong government hand, making use of laws and regulations and subsidizing healthy foods, good medical counseling, and special efforts at obesity prevention programs for children.
Contact: Susan Gilbert, Public Affairs and Communications Manager
The Hastings Center