21st October 2021 – on European “Living with Obesity & People First” Campaign Day, Irish people need to be better informed about the disease and the impact it has on people living with obesity

On “European Living with Obesity & People First Campaign Day” Irish people need to be better informed about the disease and the impact it has on people living with obesity.

  •  The range of biological and environmental factors that contribute to obesity are often over-looked
  • Despite evidence pointing to genetics as a major contributor of obesity1, 58% of the Irish pub-lic think that people living with obesity lack will power2
  • To mark European “Living with Obesity and People First Campaign Day”, Novo Nordisk conducted surveys aimed at the general public and people living with obesity to better under-stand obesity stigma and its manifestation in Ireland.

Dublin, 21 October 2021- With support of the Irish Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ICPO), results of questionnaires reveal 74% of those living with obesity believe their weight negatively influences how people interact with them. Further, the findings unveil majority of the general public believe obesity is often the result of poor lifestyle choices and over half be-lieve those living with obesity have a lack of willpower2.

Currently, 1.37 million Irish people are living with overweight or obesity3. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ireland is among the top countries with the highest obesity prevalence in Europe and is set to have the highest prevalence of overweight and obesity in Eu-rope by 20304. Despite this significant percentage, those living with obesity continue to face stigma, bias and discrimination2.

There are a number of biological and environmental factors that contribute to obesity, many of which are outside of an individual’s control, meaning that diet and exercise alone are not always sufficient alone for weight loss5.

“The key to advancing the fight against obesity is a better understanding of the brain,” says Professor Carel Le Roux, an expert in obesity at St Vincent’s University Hospital. “We thought that over-eating caused obesity. But now we understand that the disease of obesity causes people to overeat.”

When examining the impact close relationships have on people living with obesity, 75% of re-spondents felt that family or friends have cast judgment towards them for their weight with similar numbers reporting that they received intentional stigmatised comments from friends or family in relation to their weight2.

91% of people believed obesity leads to other health problems and 36% believe people should take responsibility for their own health without medical interventions2. This may help explain why almost half of those living with obesity do not feel comfortable discussing their weight with their Doctor.

“This survey demonstrates the need for us to change the obesity narrative and follow the science, which clearly shows that obesity is a complex, chronic disease, not a lifestyle choice,” says Dr Jean O’ Connell, Consultant Endocrinologist and Chairperson of the Association for the Study of Obesity in Ireland. “Obesity stigma has significant adverse effects on people’s physical and mental health, and increases the risk of further weight gain. Stigma and discrimination of any kind is not acceptable and weight stigma is no different.”
Speaking on behalf of the survey results, Susie Birney, the Executive Director of the ICPO said: “Stigma, in ALL its shapes and forms, needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. While often unintentional, words and images matter. Together we all play our part in raising awareness of how and why we need to change.”

Today, the ICPO collaborate with the European Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ECPO) in creating a new European image bank as part of the greater effort to change public percep-tion of obesity. The initiative calls to reduce visual weight stigma by highlighting the im-portance of how we use images when talking about the disease and redefining the way in which people see obesity in the media. The Irish photos are among 250 that have initially been cho-sen from over 1,000 images received from associations in 10 European countries.
Bringing education and awareness to this issue is simply the beginning. Together we must take a stand to end weight stigma.

For further information on the ICPO, please contact: Hello@icpobesity.org
Susie Birney @ susie.b@icpobesity.org or Maura Murphy @ maura@icpobesity.org
The ICPO website, under development, will launch the new image bank at 02.00 BST October 21st here at www.icpobesity.org.

For further information on how Novo Nordisk is working to end weight stigma, please visit:

About the Survey
These questions were funded by Novo Nordisk. Novo Nordisk produced the questions with in-put from iReach and the ICPO.

About Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with more than 95 years of innovation and leader-ship in diabetes care. This heritage has given us experience and capabilities that also enable us to help people defeat obesity, haemophilia, growth disorders and other serious chronic dis-eases. Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 42,700 people in 80 countries and markets its products in around 170 countries. For more information, visit

About the ICPO
The Irish Coalition for People Living with Obesity (ICPO) is a patient led organisation advocating and providing support for people living with obesity. The ICPO works closely in conjunction to the Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland (ASOI) who are is the Irish rep-resentative body at the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) 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 organi-sations, and the promotion of action to prevent and treat obesity across the island of Ireland.

Further Information
For further information, please contact:
Patricia McVann +353867878875 PCMC@novonordisk.com

1. McPherson, R. 2007. Genetic contributors to obesity. The Canadian journal of Cardiol-ogy, 23 Suppl A, 23A-27A.
2. Novo Nordisk survey report data on file.
3. Novo Nordisk data on file.
4. HSE. Online. Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016-2025. Available at: https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/cspd/ncps/obesity/a-healthy-weight-for-ireland-obesity-policy-and-action-plan.pdf
5. HSE. Online. National Clinical Programmes: Obesity, Ireland. 2021. Available at: https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/cspd/ncps/obesity/

Author avatar
Susie Birney

Post a comment

We use cookies to give you the best experience.