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Are you on a weight loss journey? This is for you.

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

So here goes....following on from yesterday, a little about why weight inclusive approaches have a place in health policy and generally in the day-to-day lives of us all.

As an evidence-based health professional, I am well aware that we are, these days, able to find a research paper to support most things that we would like to go some way towards proving. This is why it is important to read a whole host of research and understand where it has come from and draw your own conclusions and balanced view-points. This is something I do a lot of. Please God don’t read one person’s Instagram caption, listen to someone talk on Good Morning Britain or read a Daily Mail article and share it with all as gospel. Be critical as to where that information may have come from.

What has become increasingly more and more apparent to me though through my reading, my experience and my studies is that shaming anyone into more positive health behaviours almost NEVER works, in fact, the research tells us that often it encourages people in totally the other direction.

I wanted to share the abstract from a recent paper that I read and really liked from Jeffrey M Hunger, Joslyn P Smith and A. Janet Tomiyama. It went as follows:

‘Health policies routinely emphasize weight loss as a target for health promotion. These policies rest upon the assumptions: that higher body weight equals poorer health, that long-term weight loss is widely achievable, and that weight loss results in consistent improvements in physical health. Our review of the literature suggests that these three assumptions underlying the current weight-focused approach are not supported empirically. Complicating this further are the misguided assumptions that weight stigma (i.e., pervasive social devaluation and denigration of higher weight individuals) promotes weight loss and recognizing that one is “overweight” is necessary to spur health-promoting behaviours. We highlight throughout how these assumptions have manifested in current policies and offer suggestions for alternative approaches to health promotion. We conclude by advocating for the broad adoption of a weight-inclusive approach to health policy.’

This is something, that if you read my previous blog post, I am especially passionate about at the moment.

The growth of movements such as body acceptance, intuitive eating and Health at Every Size have been taken a little away from their intended origins in some respects and it’s important that we look further into weight-inclusive approaches to take them back towards what they were meant for.

On my social media platforms next week I am going to share a video about the difference between weight inclusive and weight centric approaches to health. This is really important to first and foremost, go some way towards tackling any weight stigma and discrimination. Putting weight centric approaches at the forefront of many health promotions is damaging to say the least – not to mention people like Joe Wicks encouraging children to ‘earn’ things by exercising, but that’s a conversation for a different day.

We cannot assume that every person has the capacity or ability to lose weight either mentally or physically. It is really important that we all recognise that.

Maybe it’s time to disrupt old-fashioned appearance ideals because, personally, I believe that they have no space in the present day – when and how do you FEEL best?

Let’s all have a look at the health messages we are exposed to as we move through our days – are they really inclusive of ALL people? Do they demonstrate respect no matter what a person looks like? Does it go some way to refuting societal standards of what is ‘better’?

Peace and love, A x

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