Public Health Needs to Decouple Weight and Health
educational resourceposted on 2021-10-28, 21:24 authored by Amanda MontgomeryAmanda Montgomery, Collaboratory for Health Justice
Within the last century, body size has become an issue of focus in public health. The narrative that rising body weights and the "obesity epidemic" are the cause for worsening health outcomes has sent public health into attack mode: in order to protect population health, medical and public health professionals must help their patients stop gaining weight. As a result, however, we have created a society that equates thinness to health and morality while simultaneously demonizing fatness. It has 60% or more of Americans on diets, children as young as 5 worried they are "too fat" and an increasingly negative collective body image.
This brief explores the association between racism, weight, and health, the flaws in the belief that higher weight is causing worse health outcomes, and how our fixation on weight may actually be causing more harm than good. Using examples and opportunities for reflection, explore how to take a "Health At Every Size (HAES) approach within public health practice and create affirming environments for people of all body shapes and sizes.