If we don’t tell people what to eat, they’ll just eat Twinkies all day!
What if they think that getting their oil changed regularly means that they are living a Health at Every Size life?
You can’t tell people to do movement that they enjoy, they’ll think that doing dishes is the same as taking an aerobics class.
This kind of attitude doesn’t do anyone any good. In the 1850’s William Banting started the first low carb craze, the Grapefruit Diet was introduced in the 1930’s. In the 40’s and 50’s, the first “ideal” height/weight charts were introduced. What I’m trying to say here is that we’ve been at this weight loss thing for some time and there are serious, valid questions about efficacy. If you aren’t sure what the Health at Every Size concept is then ask. If you have actual questions then let’s have a real dialog, but acting like fat people will not be able to tell the difference between a Twinkie and a Veggie stir fry is not bringing anything to the conversation.
This is a serious conversation for serious people. Our health is at stake. If people are confused about what foods to eat, I would ask if the diet culture might be to blame? Diets that tell people to eat restrictively 6 days a week and binge eat on the 7th. Diets that tell people to eat cabbage soup and only bananas on Tuesday, and cabbage soup and only steak on Wednesday etc. The cookie diet. Snackwell’s. Low fat, low cal. Low carb, high fat. Vegan. Gluten free. No processed food. All processed food. It’s incredibly difficult to get true information about health separate from weight loss because people get paid so much to sell weight loss.
We can’t get away from the incessant message that we’re experiencing a panic-worthy rise in the rates of obesity. However in his book The End of the Obesity Epidemic, Australian scholar Michael Gard points out that obesity rates for people of all ages leveled off or declined all over the world, including in the United States, over the last decade. He also points out that life expectancy rates have risen in line with obesity rates. But if you say that to people you get shunned because “Everybody knows that 99% of Americans are going to be obese by next week and we have to treat fat people like they are complete morons because they haven’t become thin.”
And don’t bring up the fact that since 1959 all the data suggests that only 5% of people are physically capable of changing their body size long term and a number of those people are on their first diet. And don’t mention the research that shows that early dieting attempts predict weight gain, obesity, and eating disorders but do not predict weight loss, because people will accuse you of being unable to ascertain the health benefits of doing dishes versus going on a brisk walk.
The Cooper Institute for Aerobics has been looking at fitness since 1970 and they say “We’ve studied this from many perspectives in women and in men and we get the same answer: It’s not the obesity—it’s the fitness.” However studies also show that working out doesn’t lead to weight loss and so I have seen articles in major news media outlets suggest that we skip physical activity, even though it is proven to make us healthier, because it’s not likely to make us thinner. What are we doing?
Instead of acting like anything other than a weight-centered health paradigm will lead to massive Twinkie eating cults of doom, can we all agree that our goal is for people to have access to everything that they need (information, foods, safe movement options that they enjoy) to make choices about their health; and then can we have an evidence–based conversation about what that means and how to get the information out? That would be great and I hope to be at the table for that talk. In the meantime would suggest Ellen Satter’s work as a great place to start.