Can you be healthy at any size? Explore a new approach
Do you really need to lose the extra weight to help manage or reduce the risk of developing diabetes? DL dietitian and diabetes educator Dr Kate Marsh explains
WHAT IS HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE?
Health At Every Size (HAES) is a weight-neutral approach to health. HAES practitioners believe that, regardless of your size, it’s more important to focus on healthy behaviours than weight loss.
HAES is based on evidence that dieting for weight loss is ineffective (most people eventually gain back the weight they lose) and often harmful (some weight loss methods and repeatedly losing and regaining weight can have their own health risks).
The HAES approach, developed by the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) also encourages working to end weight discrimination, weight stigma and weight bias.
WHAT RESEARCH SHOWS
Several studies have compared the HAES approach to conventional treatment
(focused on weight) and the findings are in favour of HAES. Changing the focus from weight to health is associated with significant improvements in health measures (such as blood pressure and blood fats), health behaviours (such as diet quality and eating and activity habits) and psychosocial outcomes (such as self-esteem and body image). These improvements are greater than with weightfocused treatments and without the negative effects. And studies don’t show that taking the focus off weight leads to weight gain.
Advocates of HAES also point out that, apart from at the extremes, there is little evidence to show carrying extra weight reduces longevity. In fact, in many cases the research shows that those who are overweight live longer.
Finally, dieting to lose weight, particularly weight cycling (repeated attempts at losing weight and then regaining) can have negative effects on both physical and mental health. Placing an emphasis on weight control can lead to disordered eating and body dissatisfaction and there is actually evidence to suggest that dieting predicts future weight gain.
WHAT ABOUT THE
WEIGHT AND DIABETES?
It’s true that carrying extra weight is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes,