Body Weight is a Social Justice Movement

 

If you are in the healing arts or have any interest in nutrition, you have most likely picked up on a lot of “charge” in conversations around body weight. For example, many people have decided that “obesity” is no longer a socially acceptable term. Weight stigma is pervasive but the tides are turning.

I have been a big proponent of changing the language around stigmatizing conditions. We use “person-forward language,” which means that it is no longer acceptable to say an “obese person” but perhaps “a person living in a larger body.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a statement recommending medical interventions (bariatric surgery and medications) for adolescents living in larger bodies, citing a minimal risk of developing eating disorders. The eating disorder community saw it differently, releasing statements that such medical interventions will invariably increase eating disorder incidence and prevalence.

People tend to take one side or the other on body weight issues. This ongoing debate seems to lend itself to one of two positions:

1. We are in an obesity epidemic and urgently need to do something about it.

2. Any efforts to focus on weight loss will cause more harm than good and create new problems, including life-threatening eating disorders.

The energy in the field seems to leave very little room for dialectical thinking.

I have never had a weight-centric practice. I have always helped people find “recovery,” which will look different from person to person. I don’t even weigh people unless it is clinically appropriate. I have always focused on mental health outcomes. I have also never shamed someone for wanting to lose weight. I might provide some education about what is realistic and what is not based on the data and what I have seen over the last ten years.

I have been invited to various online summits over the years to discuss eating disorders, sugar addiction, and related topics. I have always appreciated the chance to share my work. I’ve turned down a few invites because their events reeked of diet culture energy. One time I did a podcast with someone who wanted to talk about various diets, and I talked a lot about eating disorder risk and the harms of extreme dieting. She never published it.

Recently I did a podcast with a self-proclaimed dieter who has no shame in her game. It turned out to be a FANTASTIC conversation. Check out the Jenny Hutt Podcast.

I also interviewed with the Low Carb & Fasting show (video below) and shared my views about eating disorders, trauma, and much more. I’ve concluded that it’s better to have these conversations than not. I am always willing to engage in a scholarly debate with someone, even if we have different views. I am willing to engage in the great debate of body weight. That’s what science is all about!

 

Dr. David Wiss became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in 2013 and founded Nutrition in Recovery, a group practice of RDNs specializing in treating eating and substance use disorders. In 2017, David received the “Excellence in Practice” award at the National Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. The California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics awarded him the “Emerging Dietetic Leader Award” in 2020. He earned his Ph.D. from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health in the Community Health Sciences department (with a minor in Health Psychology) by investigating the links between adverse childhood experiences and various mental health outcomes among socially disadvantaged men. His treatment philosophy is based on a biopsychosocial model which incorporates an understanding of biological mechanisms, psychological underpinnings, and contextual factors that integrate the social determinants of health. Wise Mind Nutrition is an app-based interactive treatment program available for download now - https://wisemindnutrition.com/download.

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