I am an advocate of the Health At Every Size movement. There is a pile of research showing being overweight does not mean being unhealthy . There is a book called Big Fat Lies which cites loads of research on this topic. Losing weight to promote health is just not a solid argument. It is certainly not a helpful one.
What has me all steamed up is this interview with Meme Roth. In fact there was a panel, and also representing on the anti-obesity side was Kim Bensen. She lost a lot of weight with Weight Watchers (after 'failing' many times before), and now she has a book and a line of bagels. Mmmm.
Please watch the interview, if you want to feel my pain. It will help explain my comments below. Since Roth uses statistics as her weapon of choice, the statistics from the links and the book would easily beat out her citations. Too bad they couldn't make it to the show--I would have enjoyed watching her reaction.
reason I get so angry over displays like this is that they drive more
eating disorders and obesity. Fear mongering about weight has
corresponded with exponential increases in both of these areas. It is time to accept our bodies, all bodies, wherever they are. Without this acceptance, it is impossible to be healthy at all.
I find Roth and Bensen seem to be making weight a moral issue. Bensen insisted that when she 'really wanted it badly enough' she was finally able to lose weight. This is to imply the other 20 times she dieted, she did not want it very badly. Or that the millions of people on diets right now (who will statistically gain that weight back at 98%) do not want it very badly.
Roth suggested peer pressure would help obese people lose weight. I do not think I've met many people who are overweight that did not want desperately to lose weight. Those who do accept their weight status are to be honored, wherever their weight falls.
Weight loss is not a matter of willpower--if it was, I assure you Oprah would not continue to struggle.
Since health is the main reason cited for the emergent need to lose weight, I would argue Roth is not a great example of so-called 'health'. She reports running 4 miles a day and eating 1300 calories--no dietitian would see this as a healthy routine. If she were my client, she would absolutely meet criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis. Many of Roth's stated attitudes regarding weight are highly indicative of some disordered thinking.
Being overweight is not equal to being unhealthy, just as being under or normal weight is not equal to being healthy.
Contact us with any questions about eating and behavioral health issues. You or someone you know may be in need of outpatient or residential eating disorder treatment.
Jennifer Pereira LPC, RD - Therapist & Dietitian
1. Do you worry that you have lost control over how much you eat?
2. Do you make yourself sick (or use laxatives/exercise) if you feel uncomfortably full?
3. Do you currently suffer with or suffered in the past with eating issues?
4. Do you ever eat in secret?
5. Does your weight affect how you feel about yourself?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you are not satisfied with your current eating patterns, contact us for more information.