Discover weight-inclusive health care, debunking BMI myths, and prioritizing overall well-being over scale victories for lasting health improvements.

Breaking Down Weight-Inclusive Health Care: A Shift Away from the Scale

Is the number on the scale the definitive measure of health? Does chasing a particular weight result in better health outcomes? Traditional healthcare approaches would likely say “yes.” However, there’s a growing push for a paradigm shift towards weight-inclusive health care, a concept that ditches the weight loss prime directive. This approach champions an individual’s overall well-being and works vigorously to dismantle weight stigma, a pervasive problem that has led to harmful health biases and misperceptions.

Crumbling the “Lower Weight Equals Better Health” Doctrine

Many in the public health realm are dauntlessly overturning the “lower weight equals better health” principle. With a weight-inclusive approach, healthcare professionals prioritize overall health over scale victories. This means eating for wellbeing and focusing on activities to reduce stress, eliminate smoking, lower alcohol consumption, and encourage enjoyable physical activities.

Weight stigma disproportionately affects people with larger bodies, who often face discrimination and negative stereotypes—even from their healthcare providers. Have a look at the weight loss industry; the lengths people go for weight loss reflect the deep-seated desire to avoid weight stigma—a whopping US$72.6 billion says so!

Debunking the BMI Myth

Challenging accepted norms, leading organizations like the American Medical Association and the Association for Size Diversity and Health are advocating for a critical examination of using Body Mass Index as the sole indicator of health status. By embracing a weight-inclusive approach, they argue, significant health improvements can be achieved without focusing strictly on weight loss. After all, both high and low weights are linked to health issues—it’s not a one-way street.

Impressive Backing for Weight-Inclusive Care

Research gives weight (pun intended) to the weight-inclusive approach. Studies have found that disease prevention and general wellbeing can be achieved regardless of body weight by exercising, quitting smoking, and minimizing alcohol intake. Therein lies a powerful testament to the effectiveness of nudging towards healthier lifestyle habits instead of focusing strictly on weight reduction.

Have a look at a real-world example: a client with high cholesterol ditched the vicious cycle of weight loss and regain (plus associated disordered eating and uneven exercise habits for a weight-inclusive approach by consuming more fiber-rich foods and becoming more physically active. The result? Normalized cholesterol levels.

Structural Factors Matter

A weight-inclusive approach acknowledges that an individual’s body weight, shape, and size are influenced by more than strict diet and exercise. Social determinants of health—factors like socioeconomic status, culture and access to food and health care—are essential considerations. Simply put, one’s health isn’t isolated from the rest of their life. Furthermore, the weight-inclusive approach punctures the balloon of the weight-loss holy grail by pointing out that weight loss doesn’t always equate to improved long-term health or even lasting weight loss.

Finding a Weight-Inclusive Health Care Provider

How do you find a weight-inclusive health care provider? Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Providers who make weight checks optional for regular visits.
  • Those who directly tackle patient symptoms rather than default to the “lose weight” prescription.
  • Providers that offer similar treatment to patients of different body sizes with the same health concerns.
  • Those using measures other than BMI, like lab results, to diagnose.

Summing it Up

To nurture better health, we may need to toss the scale out of the window and shift our focus to overall well-being. The push for weight-inclusive health care recognizes the importance of this shift while battling weight stigma, which can be much more detrimental to our health journey. It’s all about removing biases and targeting improved health holistically—a move towards health equity. Remember, your worth isn’t defined by a number on the scale. Now, how’s that for a refreshing spin on healthcare?

Source Citation: https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/what-does-weight-inclusive-health-care-mean-a-dietitian-explains-what-some-providers-are-doing-to-end-weight-stigma/

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