The following statements are key pieces of misinformation surrounding the non-diet approach or Health At Every Size(R) approach to healthcare, which keeps people stuck in the vicious dieting cycle:
Obesity is a disease and it kills.
Weight = Health. That is, weight loss (despite it not being achievable long-term) is really about health. Weight loss is more about meeting society’s thin ideals, standards and expectations or fitting in with others.
The only way to health is through weight loss – There are other paths to health that don’t involve a focus on weight loss.
There is a huge assumption that previously obese people have the same risk factors that people that have always been non-obese. There are no studies to confirm the assumption as we can’t study a population that does not exist.
Uniformed people hearing the Health At Every Size(R) (HAES) message believe the paradigm is about saying all people are healthy regardless of weight. It is about striving for health at any size, not saying that everyone is healthy right now. Trying to lose weight is not the answer. The message is that all people can choose to make positive health and exercise choices regardless of size.
“I would just eat cake/lollies/chocolate etc non-stop!” People think that when they stop pursuing weight loss they will stop consuming nutritious food, moving their bodies, etc. They think that intuitive eating is giving up – an excuse not to take care of yourself and not take action in regards to managing health.
Nutrition and exercise are not important – Nutrition and exercise are important components of health. Weight is less important as a component of health than fitness and nutrition.
Calorie in = Calorie out – There are many causes for weight gain. It is related to energy balance or calorie in equalling calorie out. A huge reason is because of dieting. With each and every attempt of dieting, body set point increases. It’s not only a case related to eating too much food/drink.
The weight loss will hold as long as you ‘monitor’ (i.e. restrict/deprive) what is food is eaten.
That people can choose to be ‘fat’ with HAES. Rather HAES offers people of body types (regardless of where they end up after dieting) a message of compassion and acceptance. People generally do not “choose” to be fat living in this fatphobic society.
People often confuse behaviour with size. The size of a person does not give you an indication as to how they care for themselves.
Key Research pieces
To help correct the above misinformation read the following key pieces of research and/or this blog post.
- The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss
- Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift
- Impact of Non-Diet Approaches on Attitudes, Behaviors, and Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review
- Healthy Lifestyle Habits and Mortality in Overweight and Obese Individuals
- Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: diets are not the answer
- Obesity Stigma: Important Considerations for Public Health