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Reclaiming the word Obesity? Here we ‘O’!

Reclaiming a word means taking something that has been used in a negative way and turning it into a badge of pride.  Even impressionist painting has done this – the first critic to view the paintings with their quick, imprecise strokes and focus on light, sneered that this was nothing more than an “impression” of a picture, not a real painting, and a movement was born. 

We were struck by this when we saw the photos sent in by patients and their families and caregivers for World Obesity Day, which took place last Wednesday, March 4.  From Nigeria to Nashville, and Kuwait to Kenya, people sent selfies and photos of themselves proudly holding their hands in the O shape.  Why O?  Well, to be honest, as part of a wider effort to expand and reimagine World Obesity Day, we needed something simple and universal that anyone, anywhere could do to show their support.  We were launching a new World Obesity Day with several other groups agreeing to celebrate on one single day, and our campaign on the roots of obesity was focused on decision makers and health providers, as well as people living with obesity.  Roots are a great universal object, and we developed a common declaration using ROOTS as an acronym, but still needed something simple to harness the power of our social media age.  The O shape seemed to do the trick and we were amazed at how many people responded positively – starting with Nelson Mandela’s lovely granddaughter Zoleka, a cancer survivor and patient activist based in South Africa, as well as actress Dame Helen Mirren.

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