OAC Calls Out Bill Maher for "Misguided" Comments about Obesity

Published in September Issue             

The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) took great exception to comments made by comedian Bill Maher about obesity during his August 18th show on HBO.

The “Real Time” host made jokes including, "Obesity is the main reason people wear sweatpants in public" and “Among the shaming police, your body is perfect just the way it is – prone, on a gurney.”

“Mr. Maher’s comments only further perpetuate the weight bias and stigma all too often associated with obesity. While we recognize that Mr. Maher was attempting to have a serious discussion about obesity, he also needs to recognize that it’s a very complicated problem with no easy solution,” said Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO, in a news release.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity, which has been linked to many other diseases including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, some cancers, arthritis and heart disease,
among others.

The OAC says weight bias can make life worse for a person with obesity. People affected by weight bias often delay important medical appointments and suffer depression, anxiety and poor body image, and other health problems.

“While we understand Bill Maher’s main motivation is to bring comedic light to societal issues, he was severely misguided in his attempt to discuss obesity. Shaming people affected by obesity doesn’t encourage them to take better care of their health. It just makes us feel bad and often contributes to more weight gain,” said Patricia Nece, JD, OAC Weight Bias Task Force Chair and National Board Member.

Nadglowski, who leads the 54,000-plus strong OAC, is ready to sit down with Bill Maher and set things straight.

“If Bill Maher wants to get serious about obesity and have a real conversation, the OAC would welcome the opportunity to educate him so that next time he uses his media platform to discuss it, it’s a constructive discussion,” said Nadglowski.

The OAC developed a brochure, entitled Understanding Obesity Stigma, which offers an in-depth look at weight bias in healthcare, school, employment and other areas. The OAC also offers many articles on weight bias discussing a variety of topics, such as cyber-bullying, weight discrimination and more. To read these articles and more, click here.