Health at Every Size – A different perspective

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of  thinking we used when we created them”  Albert Einstein

What if you learned that that “dieting” or most types of “food/energy restriction or control” led to weight cycling and weight gain over time, disordered eating, food preoccupation, reduced self-esteem, increased levels of depression and anxiety?  Would you still want to diet??

There is strong evidence reinforcing that long-term weight loss is unsustainable due to a lack of effective treatment, (Mann, et al, 2007).  The current weight-centric treatment modalities, or a focus on weight loss, are ineffective and are often harmful as shown by research and most people’s lived experience.  We now know that a weight loss focus leads to dieting and food restriction which are associated with many side effects such as the increased risk of eating disorders, weight cycling, weight stigma, weight gain, food preoccupation, all or nothing approach to eating, depression, and anxiety. (Tylka, et al, 2014, Clifford et al, 2015, Bacon & Aphramor, 2011)

There is a better way, this is where Health at Every Size® (HAES®) comes in.  HAES® is an evidenced-based foundational model that supports individuals in obtaining and sustaining a long term healthy behaviors such as healthy eating, exercise and more. HAES® shifts the focus from weight loss to health and wellbeing. It is not your weight that determines your health, it is your habits and lifestyle patterns along with many other factors.

HAES is a set of principles that supports health for all bodies, regardless of shape or size.  It is non- discriminatory as it rests on the tenant that all bodies are good bodies and all bodies deserve care.  It also acknowledges and challenges the belief that thin = healthy, which is untrue as thinner bodies get ill just as larger bodies do.  And yes, higher weight bodies are associated with increased risk of chronic disease, yet any scientist knows that association is NOT causation. Emerging research is showing weight stigma to be a major factor for the increased risk of chronic disease associated with larger bodies— a topic for another time.  Also, we know that most risk factors decrease with healthy behaviors (i.e. eating more fruits and vegetables, consistent physical activity) independent of weight or BMI. Weight does not determine health, it is never that simple!

HAES principles are:

  1. Weight Inclusivity: Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
  2. Health Enhancement: Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
  3. Respectful Care: Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma and support environments that address these inequities.
  4. Eating for Well-being: Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.
  5. Life-Enhancing Movement: Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.

Source: Association for Size Diversity and Health   Mann   Tylka   Clifford  Bacon & Aphramore

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Silvina Cox_Expert

Hi, I’m Silvina Cox, M.P.H, R.D.N. As a Registered Dietitian and Intuitive Eating Coach, I combine the science of nutrition with weight-neutral best practices that honor you and your body’s wisdom. It is my joy to help you find vibrant health, your natural weight, and lasting peace with food and your body.