Addressing obesity stigma to be discussed at national obesity conference in advance of European Obesity Day  

1st April 2019 People with overweight and obesity are often targets of negative attitudes in many areas of their lives. Bias and stigma towards people living with obesity has a negative impact on health, and on effective obesity intervention efforts.

Patient advocacy and approaches to reducing obesity stigma are the key themes for the Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland’s (ASOI) Annual Conference 2019. The conference, which takes place on 17th-18th May in the Convention Centre Dublin, will bring together national and international speakers from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, including clinicians, social scientists, and media and patient representatives.

Professor Arya Sharma, founder and scientific director of Obesity Canada, and Dr Ximena Ramos-Salas from Obesity Canada will present keynotes at the event. Prof Sharma will speak about ethical dilemmas in obesity prevention and treatment, while Dr Ramos-Salas will share their experiences from Canada on building an obesity network. Dr Oli Williams will describe his innovative work on a publication, “The Weight of Expectation”, a comic which visualises his research into the stigma associated with bodyweight. These international experts will share best practice on how we can avoid obesity stigma when delivering public health campaigns. Reducing stigma is of vital importance as research indicates that stigmatising messages have the opposite effect to that intended, and drive unhealthy eating and activity behaviours. The ASOI will also host an interactive panel discussion with media representatives on how obesity is discussed in print, broadcast and online media, in addition to learning how to reduce obesity stigma to better support public health messaging.

Dr Jean O’Connell, Chair of the ASOI commented: “The upcoming conference is an important milestone as the ASOI prepares to host the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) and the World Obesity Federation’s first joint ECO – ICO conference in 2020. Education of health professionals and establishing a national patient council for Ireland are two of the legacy aims of the international conference which will bring global experts in the fields of obesity and public health to the Convention Centre in Dublin.”

As part of the conference, on Saturday 18th May, the ASOI will mark European Obesity Day 2019 which raises awareness and increases knowledge about obesity and the many other diseases on which it impacts. Speaking about European Obesity Day, Susie Birney, patient representative with the ASOI and EASO, said: “Together, we can help to improve the prevention and treatment of obesity, ultimately improving the health and quality of life of those who are living with it. This half-day event will be led by patient representatives, and will involve a practically focused event for people living with obesity and their families. It will include presentations from patient representatives and health care professionals covering the role of genetics in determining body weight, family-based approaches to healthy weight management, the unknowns of living with obesity, and approaches to reduce obesity stigma.”


More details on the conference, including speakers, the call for abstracts, and registration is available at Reduced rates are available for people living with obesity and their families.

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For more information or to request an interview please contact

Marita Hennessy, Communications Lead, Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland,

Telephone: +353 (0)86 374 3794

Email: /


Editor’s notes

  1. About ASOI: The Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland (ASOI) is the Irish representative body at the European Association for the Study of Obesity and the World Obesity Federation. ASOI aims to develop an understanding of obesity through the pursuit of excellence in research and education, the facilitation of contact between individuals and organisations, and the promotion of action to prevent and treat obesity, across the island of Ireland. See info for details.
  2. For more information about European Obesity Day visit
  3. Please use people-first language and non-stigmatising imagery when speaking/writing about obesity.