June 11, 2019

For health professionals…

Just because it feels true, doesn’t make it true. Often what makes something feel true is that it’s been repeated and implied all over the background of our lives. For example – “a healthy tan” feels like a thing, and despite all the research showing us that a tan is actually sun damage, and increases our risk of skin cancer, we still think of a bronze sunkissed glow on white people as looking healthy (in part because it implies being of a wealth status that has the resources to enjoy time relaxing in the sun).

Despite having similarly high quality research showing that lifestyle weight loss interventions don’t work long term, the idea that if people just changed their eating and exercise habits they could sustain weight loss “feels” true. The things people think about larger bodies “feel” true. And again, it’s because those (incorrect) ideas have been spoken and implied so often and for so long.

Are there some health risks associated with being at a higher weight? Sure. There are health risks associated with certain genders, ethnicities, etc too, some of which are inherent and some of which are because of the way those people are treated in society, BUT for how long do people in health-related occupations have to know that weight loss does not appear to be a reliable intervention, and is not without risk of harm, for us to start focussing on the reliable and sustainable health interventions for people at higher weights if it is health that we supposedly care about?

Do we have to wait until it “feels” true, or are we brave enough to follow the research and the lived experience and stop causing further harm?