Weight Stigma Advocacy: Working with the White House to Prevent Weight Bias in Let’s Move!

August 1, 2014

After a successful campaign to engage the White House in a discussion about weight bias and weight stigma within the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, BingeBehavior.com Founder Lizabeth Wesely-Casella and the Binge Eating Disorder Association Founder and CEO Chevese Turner were invited to sit down with the Let’s Move! staff, November 12, 2013.

During that meeting the advocates were invited to contribute feedback to the Let’s Move! staff and provide guidance surrounding ways to prevent and negate stigmatizing messages within the program.  They were asked in particular to develop a report establishing methods to meet the mutually agreed upon goal of eliminating unintended, harmful messages that appear within the existing program.

Together, Turner and Wesely-Casella assembled a group of experts to analyze and make recommendation on all facets of the program; from community program development to cultural competency, to verbiage and language, to movement and nourishment.  The group, called the Weight Stigma Stakeholders Group (WSSG), gathered in Washington, DC for their first meeting December 12, 2013.

Members of the Weight Stigma Stakeholders Group Include:

WSSG Team 12-12-13

Top Row: Chase Bannister, MDiv, MSW, LCSW, CEDS; Jillian Lampert, Ph.D., MPH, RD, LD, FAED; Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH; Laura Discipio, LCSW; Deb Burgard, PhD, FAED; Jeanine Cogan, PhD; Michaela Bucchianeri, PhD; Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA; Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, MD, FAED, CEDS; Kathy Kater, Stigma Prevention Specialist/LICSW; Leslie McCallum, B.Comm., MSW, RSW; Bethany Womack

Seated: Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD; Robyn Hussa-Farrell, MFA, E-RYT; Lizabeth Wesely-Casella, Founder – BingeBehavior.com; Chevese Turner – Founder and CEO, BEDA; Rochelle Rice, MA

Not Pictured: Laura Collins – F.E.A.S.T.; Lisa Tealer – Board Member, Emeritus, NAAFA; Michael P. Levine, PhD, FAED; Rebecca Puhl, PhD; Scott Kahan – MD, MPh

The Weight Stigma Stakeholders Group (WSSG), comprised of 20 leaders within the eating disorders, obesity, mental health, research, advocacy, and medical fields, collaborated to create a report which became a consensus document intended to provide feedback and evidence-based guidance on suggested changes to the Let’s Move! program.

The WSSG systematically evaluated the Take Action PDF component of the Let’s Move! website to offer evidence-based suggestions in support of the Administration’s goal; promoting healthy, active lifestyles for America’s children, while preventing weight bias and stigma which can have a negative impact on a person’s ability to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors

The WSSG sent their recommendations to the Administration at the end of the first quarter and on August 1, 2014, Turner and Wesely-Casella returned to the White House to discuss the report and how best to implementation the findings.  They received a warm reception with very positive feedback around the report enabling them to discuss strategy for moving forward with the suggested changes.

Turner and Wesely-Casella were told that the information was appreciated and will be helpful as the Let’s Move! team works to revamp their messaging.  The WSSG guidance will play a part in how they refocus their language and the implementation of programs at various levels of the Federal initiative and sub-initiatives.

One drawback is that there will be a delay updating the website so the staff will be working directly with the sub-initiatives to implement the changes necessary and, as needed, they will reach out the members of the WSSG for expert guidance in specific areas.  Once the obstacles to the website design are overcome, the WSSG report will play a larger part in Let’s Move! messaging as it appears on the internet and in public use.

The next steps for the WSSG will be related to assisting the implementation of changes within the sub-initiatives, essentially the arms of the national program that extend into communities, townships and local government.   Let’s Move! at the Administrative level plans to make the WSSG recommendations happen at these community levels to ‘build from the ground up’ rather than waiting to implement them ‘from the top down’.

The Implementations Guidelines document that both the Administration level and the sub-initiative level work will be referring to will be made available on a larger scale later this fall.  The WSSG plans to promote the guidance through various media – please keep an eye out for forthcoming announcements.

1 Comment

  1. Alice Rosen
    Alice Rosen08-14-2014

    I am very impressed. Thank you for your persistence, and wise use of your power.

    May the next generation be freed from weight bias and stigma.


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