Health At Every Size – a new approach for the UK?

Its not news that obesity is a huge public health issue across the ‘developed’ world. You would have to have been living on Mars not to have heard the warnings that this epidemic puts burden on our health care systems and threatens to shorten our and our children’s lives. In the meantime, no one really seems to know what to do about it – or at least not what to do about it that is effective in more than just the short term.

In the US in recent years there had been increasing weight (excuse the pun) behind a movement to take the emphasis away from the weight, and towards health – health at every size.

The Health At Every Size (HAES)® Basic Principles are as follows:

1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.

2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.

3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.

4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure.

5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss.

source: www.sizediversityandhealth.org

For me, the HAES approach fits in perfectly with my interests in tackling the psychological aspects to eating (see my posts on Understanding Your Eating), and in encouraging a more intuitive eating approach rather than looking to restrictive diet plans. It also fits with my personal philosophy of accepting and celebrating difference. My years experience as a dietitian have taught me that we come in all shapes and sizes and only so much can be influenced by lifestyle. So I was really encouraged to find that HAES UK has recently been launched – by dietitians not many miles away from me, in Coventry. I look forward to seeing what they have planned.

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