Oli Williams, Ph.D., is somewhat unique among most of the other speakers in the Weight Neutral 4 Diabetes Care Symposium. He’s not a health professional, and he uses the term ‘obesity’ more freely than most are used to hearing in a weight-neutral space. But I was reminded by his talk that listening to a different perspective often brings new insights. Oli is a social science researcher whose work focuses primarily on weight stigma and social determinants of health, and his weight stigma research was recently recognized by the British Science Association.

“The way we currently approach the issue of ‘obesity’ is unfair, ineffective, and needs to change.” -Oli Williams, Ph.D.

In his presentation, “Feeling the Weight of Expectation,” Oli invites symposium attendees to offer support, not stigma, with practical tips on doing just that. He also details how his research illustrates the importance of providing weight neutral care if we want to promote positive health outcomes.

One of the most important takeaways from Oli’s research (and other research on health inequity) is that inequality plays more of a role in health outcomes than lifestyle choices do. Oli illuminated that not only is this the case, but the extent of inequality and the reality of the consequences. Our understanding of health, nutrition, and medicine has increased exponentially over the last few centuries--yet as Oli stated, the last time the life expectancy gap was as large as it is now, germ theory had just been discovered. Listeners will appreciate Oli’s reminder of how often social factors are at play in our 1:1 work with patients and clients.

If you’re looking to deepen your understanding of health inequity, weight stigma, and how clinicians can better approach both, join us this July for Oli Williams, Ph.D.’s presentation during the Weight Neutral track of the Weight Neutral 4 Diabetes Care Symposium.

Grace Sinopoli is a dietetic intern at UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial and an alum of the University of Dayton. As a soon-to-be registered dietitian, she is passionate about the intersection of Health at Every Size, food insecurity, and social justice, and she is an advocate for ending weight stigma and diet culture in all areas of life, especially healthcare. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or at [email protected]