Novo Nordisk Delivers Weight Stigma to Grand Nursing Rounds
And what was The University of Ottawa Heart Institute thinking?
Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, which is trying to have one of its fastest and most lucrative launches ever with its new weight loss drug, has been working overtime to convince us that they are deeply committed to ending weight stigma (and hoping we don’t notice that their message of “We don’t want to stigmatize fat* people, we just want to make millions selling drugs that promise to eradicate them” is not, in fact, a non-stigmatizing message.) I wrote about this disingenuous campaign in depth for The Mighty.
Then a reader sent me a marketing piece that makes it crystal clear that Novo Nordisk’s claims of working to end weight stigma are just for show (and profit)
This is so out-of-control inappropriate that my initial response was just a string of expletives and I had take time to calm down before I could write about this. It’s one of those things that makes me incredibly grateful that, as a speaker and writer, I get to bring a different message to healthcare practitioners that mitigates some of this harm, but obviously the best solution is that the harm not happen in the first place.
I guess my first question is - has Novo Nordisk hired a school yard bully to name their workshops? How is it possible that not only did Novo Nordisk create this, but a major medical institution approved it and someone created marketing materials as if this was ok.
It’s bad enough that they are trying to peddle the harmful false idea that simply existing in a fat body is a “chronic, life-long health condition” (which I wrote about here,) to sell their drugs at nursing grand rounds, but they want to do it while teaching weight stigma and normalizing fat jokes in healthcare?
And by the way, research tells us that weight stigma doesn’t need Novo Nordisk’s help (note that these statistics are deeply troubling and you may want to skip the indented portion)
· 48% of nurses felt uncomfortable caring for ob*se patients
· 31% would prefer not to care for an ob*se patient at all
· 24% of nurses agreed or strongly agreed that caring for an ob*se patient repulsed them
· 12% reported that they preferred not to touch an ob*se patient
--Puhl and Brownell, Bias, Discrimination, and Ob*sity
(I’ll also note here the Rebecca Puhl and the Rudd Center at Yale (now UConn) are also still fully invested in the weight-loss paradigm and the eradication of fat people as a goal and so are still promoting weight-stigma.)
So…creating a training based around a fat joke is not going to take us in the right direction. And my heart goes out to fat nurses who were subjected to this, having been literally labeled “elephants in the room.” This is especially problematic since we know that weight dissatisfaction among practitioners translates to greater weight stigma towards patients.
There is no reason, no excuse, no justification they could possibly give that would make this ok. Shame on Novo Nordisk for their consistent campaign of harming fat people for profit.
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*Note on language: I use “fat” as a neutral descriptor as used by the fat activist community, I use “ob*se” and “overw*ight” to acknowledge that these are terms that were created to medicalize and pathologize fat bodies, with roots in racism and specifically anti-Blackness. Please read Sabrina Strings’ Fearing the Black Body – the Racial Origins of Fat Phobia and Da’Shaun Harrison’s Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness for more on this.