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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2018, Article ID 8645694, 7 pages
Review Article

Canadian Senate Report on Obesity: Focusing on Individual Behaviours versus Social Determinants of Health May Promote Weight Stigma

1Department of Exercise Science, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke Street West Office: SP-165.31, Montreal, QC, Canada H4B 1R6
2Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, TRW Building, 3rd Floor, 3280 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4Z6
3Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Education Tower 634, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 1N4
4Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 1N4

Correspondence should be addressed to Angela S. Alberga; ac.aidrocnoc@agrebla.alegna

Received 18 October 2017; Accepted 17 May 2018; Published 2 July 2018

Academic Editor: Eliot Brinton

Copyright © 2018 Angela S. Alberga et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Very little attention has been given to unintended consequences of government reporting on obesity. This paper argues that the 2016 Senate report, “Obesity in Canada: A Whole-Of-Society Approach,” exemplifies the systemic public health issue of weight stigma. The purpose of this viewpoint is to critique the approach taken in the Report, by illustrating that it (1) takes a weight-centric approach to health, (2) does not acknowledge important limitations of the definition and measurement of obesity, (3) reifies obesity as a categorical phenomenon that must be prevented, and (4) uses aggressive framing and disrespectful terminology. The Report perpetuates a focus on the individual, thereby failing to recognize the role that governments can play in reducing weight stigma and addressing social determinants of health. If steps are taken to avoid propagating weight stigma, future reports could more constructively address health promotion, equity, and social determinants of health in their policies.