Oli Williams PhD

Level 2: Feeling the Weight of Expectation: Offer Support Not Stigma

Oli Williams


Existing research overwhelmingly demonstrates that obesity stigma is an ineffective means by which to reduce the incidence of obesity and that it promotes weight-gain. However, how stigma associated with bodyweight and size gets under the skin and is felt in the flesh has received far less attention. To attend to this blind spot, the origins of obesity are outlined, the possibilities for ‘healthy obesity’ are considered and the unhelpfulness of weight-based stigma are highlighted. Specific examples from research with weight-loss groups whose members were predominantly overweight/obese and of low-socio-economic status help to demonstrate what/how obesity stigma made group members feel. This provides a useful platform from which to offer guidance on how best to provide patient-centred care that is supportive and not stigmatising. This includes the use of an evidence-based comic that explores the everyday experience of weight-management and weight stigma titled ‘The Weight of Expectation’.

Speaker Bio

Oli Williams completed his PhD in the Department of Sociology at the University of Leicester. He was subsequently awarded the NIHR CLAHRC West Dan Hill Fellowship in Health Equity which he held at the University of Bath. He later re-joined the University of Leicester in the Department of Health Sciences working in the SAPPHIRE Group and is now based at King’s College London after being awarded a THIS Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship. His research focuses on health inequalities, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, obesity, weight stigma, equitable intervention and co-production. He co-founded the art collective Act With Love (AWL) to promote social change. This comic is one example of their work, view others at: www.actwithlove.co.uk In recognition of his work on weight stigma the British Science Association invited Oli to deliver the Margaret Mead Award Lecture for Social Sciences at the British Science Festival 2018.