The Science

At DIVERSE we take a Health At Every Size® approach to health. Health At Every Size® focuses on healthy behaviours rather than one’s appearance. The Health At Every Size® principles provide scaffolding for fitness and health professionals. The principles include(1):

  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

 

 

Many people may be shocked to know that individual approaches to weight loss are ineffective (2) with high rates of weight regain, weight cycling, stigma, decreased self-esteem, poor body image, food and weight preoccupation, eating disorders and discrimination linked with the perusal of weight loss (3). Having individuals aim for a “healthy” body weight has even lead to individuals engaging in disordered eating practices (4).  Focussing on weight loss and appearance does not help the majority of people in achieving healthy outcomes.

 

In addition to acknowledging weight loss efforts, it is important to also consider how we as a society contribute to diet culture and how it fuels weight stigmatization. Diet culture is a system of beliefs that promote weight loss as a way to attain higher status whilst dehumanising certain ways of eating and oppressing those who do not fit the with it’s interpretation of “health” (5). Weight stigma is discrimination or stereotyping based on a person’s weight (6). The effects of weight stigma are well documented; it can increase body dissatisfaction (a leading risk factor in the development of eating disorders) and is a significant risk factor for eating disorders, depression, body dissatisfaction, and low self-esteem (6). Weight stigma can also produce ill health through direct stress-induced neuroendocrine reaction and pathways or through adverse coping mechanisms (7).

 

As lifestyle interventions for long term weight loss is only possible for a small minority (8), diet culture and weight stigmatization often lead to unhealthy behaviours and outcomes, yet exercise is beneficial for everyone at every size, it makes sense to just focus on engaging in healthy behaviours, like exercise for one’s general health and wellbeing.

 

At DIVERSE we embed the Health At Every Size® principles into all that we practice. We move for fun and enjoyment, challenging ourselves to improve our fitness and health without focussing on the scales. If this sounds like the refreshing environment you need, head to CONTACT and get in touch!

 

We hope you join our fit fam!

 

 

References

1.           Australia HAES. What is HAES? https://haesaustraliainc.wildapricot.org/What-is-HAES: Health At Every Size Australia;  [

2.           Bombak A. Obesity, Health at Every Size, and Public Health Policy. American Journal of Public Health. 2014;104(2):60 - 7.

3.           Bacon L, Aphramor L. Weight science: evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift. Nutrition Journal. 2011;10(9).

4.           Aphramor L. Is a weight-centred health framework salutogenic? Some thoughts on unhinging certain dietary ideologies. Social Theory Health. 2005;3(4):315-40.

5.           Harrison C. What is Diet Culture? https://christyharrison.com/blog/what-is-diet-culture: Christy Harrison; 2017 [

6.           Association NED. Weight Stigma https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/weight-stigma: National Eating Disorders Association; 2018 [

7.           Puhl RM, Heuer CA. Obesity stigma: important considerations for public health. American Journal of Public Health. 2010;100(6):1019-28.

8.           NHMRC. Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia. Melbourne: National Health and Medical Research Council; 2013.

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