A healthy weight is defined by a body composition that positively contributes to an individual’s overall health, well-being, and quality of life over their lifespan. Weight is one marker of health. A healthy weight is different for each individual.
Healthy weight, at all ages and stages of life, promotes and supports the physical, mental, and social health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Healthy weight reduces the risk and occurrence of and supports the management of weight-related diseases and health problems.
There are long-established and well-documented links between obesity and various medical conditions, chronic diseases, and premature death. For example, obesity is associated with sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, asthma, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, chronic back pain, several types of cancers, cardiovascular diseases and depression.
Obesity and other weight-related issues are shaped by social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental factors where we live, learn, work, and play. This means that our living and working conditions have a strong impact on our ability to achieve and maintain healthy weights. There are many influences in our current environment that tend to promote obesity in individuals and populations- e.g., food production, food marketing, opportunities for recreation and physical activity, and sedentary work and transportation.
Weight bias refers to negative attitudes, beliefs, assumptions and judgments toward individuals who are overweight and obese. Strong evidence shows that weight bias causes harm to mental health and well-being.
Given that approximately half of Canadians are overweight or obese, it is important to work towards reducing weight bias and stigma to improve mental and physical health for all.
Our 2013 discussion paper,
Weight to well-being: Time for a shift in paradigms?
, reviews the research about interrelationships among overweight, obesity, weight bias and mental well-being. This report identifies some key action areas for shifting focus towards well-being, including: promoting healthy child and youth development, decreasing weight stigma among health professionals, and creating healthy public policy through a whole-of-society approach.
PHSA Population and Public Health supports approaches that seek to address the complex problems associated with obesity in ways that protect and promote mental well-being as well as physical health. In addition, we believe that efforts to promote healthy weights and well-being should ensure that they do not inadvertently increase inequities in health or health behaviours.