Title: Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight
Author: Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor
Price: $12.30 paperback, $10.03 Kindle
Mainstream health science has let you down.
Weight loss is not the key to health, diet and exercise are not effective weight-loss strategies and fatness is not a death sentence.
You’ve heard it before: there’s a global health crisis, and, unless we make some changes, we’re in trouble. That much is true—but the epidemic is NOT obesity. The real crisis lies in the toxic stigma placed on certain bodies and the impact of living with inequality—not the numbers on a scale. In a mad dash to shrink our bodies, many of us get so caught up in searching for the perfect diet, exercise program, or surgical technique that we lose sight of our original goal: improved health and well-being. Popular methods for weight loss don’t get us there and lead many people to feel like failures when they can’t match unattainable body standards. It’s time for a cease-fire in the war against obesity.
Dr. Linda Bacon and Dr. Lucy Aphramor’s Body Respect debunks common myths about weight, including the misconceptions that BMI can accurately measure health, that fatness necessarily leads to disease, and that dieting will improve health. They also help make sense of how poverty and oppression—such as racism, homophobia, and classism—affect life opportunity, self-worth, and even influence metabolism.
Body insecurity is rampant, and it doesn’t have to be. It’s time to overcome our culture’s shame and distress about weight, to get real about inequalities and health, and to show every body respect.
Eat less and exercise more. That’s what the experts recommend to lose weight. And yet, many who try it fail to shed the pounds or gain back even more after a few months. It’s easy to label these people as lazy or weak, and believe they lie when they claim they are sticking religiously to their dieting and exercising programmes.
But what if this advice really doesn’t work? And what if losing weight wasn’t the goal anyway? What if fat weren’t a death sentence? Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, authors of “Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight” believe that most of what we know about weight is wrong.
The authors believe that many of the illnesses associated with obesity aren’t caused by extra fat or weight, but by the stress and stigma of being a fat person in a fatphobic culture, poor health behaviours, discrimination, and inequality. Access to quality but affordable food and park and green areas, for instance, are too often lacking in poor areas. And that’s where a higher proportion of overweight people live.
Stress plays a big part too. It increases the production of cortisol, the hormone that stimulates appetite and packs fat away into storage, and inhibits the release of growth hormone, which reduces fat storage and keeps our metabolism up to speed. Social inequalities and body hate highly increase the risk of stress, and therefore, of obesity.
To solve the problem, societies must adopt positive social policies that address discrimination and inequalities. But that akes time. In the meantime, you can start respecting your body and follow the philosophy of Health at Every Size (HAES) movement. What is it?
HAES does not claim that everyone is at a healthy weight. What it does do is ask for respect and help people shift their focus away from changing their size to enhancing their self-care behaviors–so they let weight fall where it may naturally. It also keeps the role of lifestyle as a risk factor for disease in perspective.
HAES means accepting that people come in all shapes and sizes. It means listening to your body and its needs. Rather than dieting, try mindful eating. Paying attention to signals of hunger and fullness and the way foods make us feel, both when we’re eating them and afterwards, can help us develop healthy eating habits.
It means stop judging yourself for what you weight. Stop beating yourself up when you slip up. If any uncomfortable emotions around food, or your body, arise, acknowledge them and treat yourself kindly. Show compassion to yourself. This will empower you to move on and make the lifestyle changes you need to.
The Health At Every Size approach goes against everything we’ve been taught for decades. Many will understandably be sceptical. But the old approach isn’t working, and it’s high time someone explained us why. Every claim the authors make is supported by scientific studies. But don’t let that fool you. The book is never dull and boring. It’s beautifully written, engaging and compassionate. It’s a book everyone, not just those who are trying to lose weight, should read. And share.
Available at: Amazon
In Body Respect, Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor debunk common myths about obesity and weight loss, and propose a new approach, Health At Every Size. Based on body respect, it helps you develop healthy habits that will improve your health.