One area I think I want to focus on professionally once I’m a Registered Dietitian (I’m reserving final judgement until after I do my 9-month supervised practice aka internship) is body weight. I’m interested in the whole weight spectrum: from bariatric surgery to eating disorders. That’s a huge, huge spectrum, and one small part of that is the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement.
While obesity is absolutely linked to certain chronic diseases and other health problems (osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, etc.), obesity does not always have to equal ill health. To my mind, maintaining a “healthy” or “normal” weight is only one habit that can contribute to health…and if that “healthy” weight is obtained by unhealthy means, then it might very well NOT contribute to health.
Nutritious food, regular physical activity, stress reduction and management and adequate sleep also contribute to health. So what happens if you do all of these things…except the weight part? Can you be healthy? I suspect that many people can, although this would vary from individual from individual.
Really, it’s the difference between looking at obesity on a population-wide (national or global) level, and looking at a single obese person and all the various elements that contribute to their health.
Anyway, I’m so interested in HAES that I’m planning to take a workshop on it later this summer from a semi-local RD practitioner. So naturally, I read with interest Tuesday’s Weighty Matters post by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff on a tweet sent out by HAES practitioner and author of the book Health At Every Size, Linda Bacon. She referenced the horrifying Dutch Famine during World War II, and likened modern dieting, and it’s health effects, to that tragic historical example of starvation. Extreme? Quite likely…which is a shame, because HAES is a concept that has so much good about it. Anyway, if weight struggles are part of your life, or even if they are not, I encourage you to read Dr. Freedhoff’s post. I’ve been following his blog, and his tweets, for a while, and I find him to be intelligent, thoughtful, and balanced.