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Dietitians of Canada endorses International consensus statement against weight stigma

March is Nutrition Month and I’ve been reflecting on how things change and have changed in our profession. At times change can feel gradual, or even too slow. However, I’ve been reminded lately that significant change can happen in a relatively short period of time when we come together as a community of dietitian leaders, innovators and advocates.
This week, Dietitians of Canada has signed on to endorse an international consensus statement and an accompanying, Pledge to Eradicate Weight Bias and Stigma of Obesity. As you read through the statement, you may not fully agree with everything, but after having many conversations with you and listening to your collective input and respectful dialogue, it is clear that dietitians recognize that weight stigma exists in healthcare, is damaging and that we must work together to reduce it.
To change, one needs to reflect and take responsibility.  Nearly all of us, as individual dietitians and together as an organization, have contributed to weight stigma.  I can share an example of this and my own reflection. For my very first Nutrition Month, in 1988, the theme was “Healthy Weights in ’88.” At the time, dietitians didn’t recognize how a campaign that tied healthy eating and exercise to body weight was problematic. Looking critically at the campaign now, 32 years later, it is easy to see that this campaign, which focused on personal responsibility, was indeed stigmatizing.

As we continue to deepen our understanding, through conversations within our networks,  professional development opportunities, including sessions at the Dietitians of Canada National Conference, as well as through reading and applying research, like that summarized in the PEN Backgrounder on Weight Stigma and Bias, we agree that our clients, patients and communities should be afforded respectful, non-stigmatizing care. Continuing these conversations across our diverse areas of practice is vital to achieving this shared goal.
Bias is tricky; we can easily see when others have a bias, but it is difficult to notice our own. As professionals, we are called to self-reflect on our biases and how they could be negatively impacting our practice and perspectives. We also must hold space for our colleagues as they work to do the same. Nutrition Month is a time for such reflection. Change can feel slow, but when we come together as a community, we can make great strides as a profession.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts! Email me here

Nathalie Savoie, Chief Executive Officer - Dietitians of Canada 
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