Have you heard of Health at Every Size?

by Chrissy on July 6, 2018

Health at Every Size is an evidence-based approach that supports people of all shapes and sizes. HAES promotes the inclusivity of all people from all different backgrounds and lifestyles, regardless of their race, nationality, sexuality, gender, beliefs, health or other factors. This approach supports people in their adoption of health promoting behaviors, but also does not discriminate against people who do not wish to pursue health.

The foundational elements of Health at Every Size are: respect, critical awareness, and compassionate care. Respect is of the utmost importance and the key for health improvement, whether it be self-respect or respect from a health professional.

As many people are aware, there is a “war on obesity” happening. This war has promoted body dissatisfaction, food preoccupation, disordered eating and the strive for unrealistic and often unattainable ideals. However, the majority of obesity related problems are not actually backed by science and have frequently been blown out of proportion. For example, the belief that being fat causes disease. While there is some association between fat and disease, being fat does not necessarily cause disease. There are many other influencing factors, such as discrimination, calorie restriction and weight cycling, which all can cause disease promotion through stress and inflammation. Another example is the belief that weight loss will improve your health. However, there isn’t any evidence of this, and in fact, weight loss has been associated with an increased risk of death. Overweight people often live longer than normal weight people.

So what are the principles of Health at Every Size?

  • Inclusion of all body weights
  • Health enhancement: the promotion of health policies that help to equalize health care and information access
  • Respectful care: acknowledge our own biases and work in environments that are supportive to all
  • Eat for well-being: focus eating on hunger, satiety, pleasure and nutritional needs
  • Life-enhancing movement: support enjoyable physical activities for all

So what can you do? You can begin by acknowledging your own biases surrounding weight, health and appearances. You can educate yourself on HAES and the science behind it, honor your own body, and practice respect for yourself and for everyone, regardless of their appearance.

 

References

Bacon, Linda, and Lucy Aphramor. Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight. BenBella Books, 2014.

“Health at Every Size®.” Health At Every Size Community Resources, Linda Bacon, PHD, 2018, haescommunity.com.

“The Health at Every Size Approach.” Association for Size Diversity and Health, ASDAH, 2018, www.sizediversityandhealth.org/content.asp?id=76.

 

Biography

Hannah Tuomisto-Bell is a passionate dietetics student at Arizona State University. She recently stumbled across the HAES approach and has since been learning more about diet culture and questioning dietetics education standards. She looks forward to helping people recognize diet culture influences and to relearn the aspects of health that are important for healthy and happy living.

 

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