Reader Alison told me about Novo Nordisk’s new campaign to sell its new “weight loss” drug, which is part of the long game for those in the weight loss industry to expand their market by pathologically living a fat body. I was so upset to see that The Mighty was a partner, as they should totally know better. After I wrote to them before I reached out to my editor and received an explanation, an apology for their mistake in promoting it, an offer to write a paid article on their site criticizing the program and their participation.
Here is a preview:
A new campaign “She’s Bigger Than Me” has been launched worldwide. The campaign claims to be about “removing the stigma of obesity*” but is actually funded by Novo Nordisk as part of what they promised would be “one of the fastest post-approval Novo Nordisk products ever” for their new weight loss drug Wegovy. According to their chief financial officer, Karsten Knudsen, they hope to double “obesity sales” by 2025 versus the 2019 baseline.
Novo Nordisk explained to the press that one obstacle to this massive profit game is insurance coverage (including Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA), and so it’s using campaigns like this to try to convert obese people, desperate to escape the stigma perpetuated by the diet industry. , to an unpaid marketing force to do their dirty work for them.
At the time of writing this article, partners in this effort include the Anti-Obesity Alliance, the Media Empathy Foundation, and The Mighty.
This part of their huge, profit-driven offering is the kind of wolf in sheep clothing campaign the Action Against Obesity Coalition is designed to launch and run. The OAC sees itself as an advocacy group for obese people, but is in fact fully funded (and acts as a lobbying arm of) powerful pharmaceutical interests that seek to sell progressively more dangerous and expensive weight-loss treatments. As you can see on their website, the “Board of Presidents” (also known as the Funders Group) is made up of weight loss drug and surgery companies, with Novo Nordisk at the top, as the only “platinum” member with a minimum funding commitment of $100,000.
The Media Empathy Foundation appears to be a legitimate organization with a noble and crucial goal of removing the stigma of disease. They should, but clearly don’t understand, the difference between their actual mission and this common choice of anti-stigma language for the money. So instead of undoing the damage, they perpetuate it. They are responsible for the damage they cause here and they have to remedy it and do everything they can to repair that damage.
For The Mighty, it was sad to see their logo on the site as a named partner. In response to my offer, Managing Editor Ben Berkeley told me that The Mighty has a working relationship with Novo Nordisk and through this affiliation the editorial team supported the initial launch of the “It’s Bigger Than Me” campaign through a social media post. (Editor’s note: The Mighty did not get paid to promote the She’s Bigger than Me campaign.) Berkeley said the editorial team is looking to meet these partner requests as a way to overcome the balance between editorial independence and funding The Mighty receives through pharmaceutical sponsorship, allowing The Mighty to continue to operate. At the time, Berkeley told me he was “foolishly unaware” of the pernicious nature of the campaign, and while he said he didn’t know if The Mighty’s larger working relationship with Novo Nordisk would continue, The Mighty editorial team assured me that he was no longer promoting or supporting the campaign. . He promised to invite this article (and other similar examples) critical of the She’s Bigger Than Me campaign, wanting it to stand “as a force for good in the fight against fat phobia and any other condition of body biases.”
I appreciate the frank response and the opportunity to use the Mighty platform to speak out about the damage that is happening, and hope to see them publicly withdraw their support from the project, acknowledge the damage and work actively to fix it, including insisting that their logo and information be removed from the campaign page.
The weight loss industry is working hard to pick the idea of ending weight stigma and turn it into a marketing tool, and they have deep pockets to hire the best people to do it, so it can be hard to know what’s going on. Here are some ways you can tell this campaign is about weight loss hype and not ending weight stigma or supporting fat liberalization:
Read the rest of the article here.
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Hi, I’m Ragan Chastain. Speaker, writer, dancer, choreographer, marathoner, soon-to-be iron distance athlete, activist, fat person. View all posts by Ragini Chastain