New research on weight science: health improvement for every shape and size by Kate Myerson, RD
A comprehensive 2014 review published in the Journal of Obesity concluded that no weight loss initiatives to date have generated long term results for the majority of participants.1 A more recent review of research support these finding that approaching health by managing weight is not effective. Instead, new research proposes approaching health through behaviors and overall wellbeing.2 Medicare also preformed a search of effective treatments, regardless of the type of intervention, the results of weight-focused interventions are remarkably consistent:
• Many people lose weight during the program
• Most people regain the lost weight
• 1/3 to 2/3 of participants end up weighing more than when they started the program.3 Rather than focusing on weight, a weight neutral philosophy has been shown to improve people’s health, regardless of their weight, while minimizing the likelihood of weight cycling and the negative consequences that often follow participation in weight-focused programs.4
Shifting the focus from weight to wellbeing, to self care instead of self control, we can develop sustainable self-care behaviors regardless of size by honoring and caring for the bodies we have right now.
There are several movements and modalities that promote self care rather than self control. Health at Every Size (HAES) is one movement that captures the ability to focus on behaviors instead of weight. The basics of the HAES philosophy includes enhancing health by providing respectful care, eating for wellbeing and finding joyful movement. Intuitive Eating is another approach that promotes self care by learning
to listen to and trust the body. The ability to trust the body is often lost through weight loss interventions such as dieting. Body Positivity is another movement that embraces the idea that there is no wrong way to have a body and improving one’s body image which can also lead to health improving behaviors.
If you are interested in improving your health using a HAES, Intuitive Eating and a Body Positive approach contact Kate Myerson, non-diet dietitian at Stowe Family Practice, 802-253-4853.
1 Tylka, T., et al. (2014). The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Wellbeing over Weight Loss. Journal of Obesity,
2 Ohara, L. and Taylor, J. (2018). What’s Wrong with the War on Obesity? A Narrative Review of the Weight-Centered Health Paradigm and Development of the 3C Framework to Build Critical Competencies for a Paradigm Shift. Sage Publications, Apr – June 2018, 1-28.
3 Medicare’s Search for effective obesity treatments: Diets are not the answer. American Psychologist, 62, 220-233.
4 Bacon, L., Aphramor, L. (2011). Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift. Nutrition Journal, 10:9.