Weight Stigma, Nutrition & Physical Disabilities

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Helping Without Harming: Weight Stigma, Nutrition and Physical Disabilities

People with obesity experience weight stigma not only from friends, family, strangers and the media, but also from healthcare practitioners. Despite good intentions, many healthcare professionals make assumptions about someone’s diet or lifestyle based on their weight. This can lead to poorer health, avoidance of healthcare, increased anxiety and low self-esteem. People with both physical disabilities and obesity face unique challenges regarding weight stigma. In this presentation, the presenters highlight client stories regarding weight stigma in the context of physical disabilities and its impact on mental health and nutrition.

About the Presenters:

Rosemary Romeo (Social Worker, Anne Johnston Health Station-Tobias House Attendant Care) is a registered social worker and psychotherapist currently working at the Anne Johnston Health Station – Tobias House Attendant Care Inc. Rosemary primarily offers mental health / counselling services across all targeted populations which include youth, seniors and barrier-free clients. Over the past 11 years, Rosemary has worked in the mental health sector serving various individuals and groups specifically survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, refugees, individuals battling substance abuse, and those labeled with complex mental health issues. 

Josee Sovinsky (Registered Dietitian, The Anne Johnston Health Station – Tobias House Attendant Care) is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in eating disorders, intuitive eating and community nutrition. She holds an Honours Bachelor in Nutrition Sciences from the University of Ottawa. She has experience working in community health, health promotion and clinical nutrition with a variety of populations including seniors, people with disabilities, newcomers, and youth. She believes that dietitians can play a strong role in supporting those with mental health needs through inclusive and accessible nutrition counselling.

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