Even if They’re Fat

HAES graphicOccasionally, when it comes up in conversation, I’ve heard some dietitian colleagues agree that a non-diet or intuitive eating approach is the best way to help clients achieve better eating habits…unless they’re really “obese.” Then they should probably lose weight “for their health.” These dietitians are not yet wholly committed to HAES®.

So I want to be very clear: I do support rejecting a weight loss mentality for all people…even if they’re fat.

(Note: I’m going to use “fat” rather than “obese” or “overweight” because it is the word preferred by the size acceptance movement.)

I’ll say it over and over – the evidence on weight loss is pretty conclusive: while most people can lose weight in the short term, almost everyone (between 90-95%) gains the weight back and often even more somewhere within 3 to 5 years (and definitely by 10 years) after the initial loss. No one is sure of the exact figure of diet failure because most weight loss studies do not study participants longer than two years. Even Weight Watchers, who could easily have access to all their clients’ data and could track weight loss and gains for many years (I was a member for 16 years, and I know I’m not the only one), has not studied people beyond two years (after which participants lost an average of 5 pounds).

The other thing we know is that health isn’t dependent on body weight. We know now (and have actually known it for years) that fitness and other healthy behaviors contribute more toward health than body weight. Sadly, most studies that examine body weight don’t account for eating habits, fitness, and social stigma when they claim that fat is bad for you. So there are lots of confounding factors that could be contributing to poor health in fat people – but instead of looking at those more closely…nah, we’ll just blame the weight.

Telling a fat person to go on a diet is most likely to have one outcome in the long term: more weight gain. And I’m guessing that is the exact opposite of what anyone on any diet hopes for.

Therefore, I don’t advocate one set of rules (intuitive eating, not dieting) for thin or normal weight people and another (weight loss diets, dietary restriction, extreme, unpleasant exercise) for fat people. That’s called a double standard and it’s bullshit and it doesn’t even work.


I support an intuitive eating approach for all people…even if they’re fat.

I support eating salads sometimes and pizza other times for whoever wants to…even if they’re fat.

I support eating dessert for anyone who chooses to…even if they’re fat.

I support any kind of pleasurable movement for people even if it doesn’t make them break a sweat…even if they’re fat.

I support people doing nothing at all for health, because health is no one’s obligation, if that’s what they want…even if they’re fat.

And I support respecting your body and treating it the best you can…even if you’re fat.

Health at Every Size® is not trying to say that every person is healthy at every size. It does mean that whatever size you’re at right now, you can begin your journey to health using a weight neutral approach. If one set of behaviors are healthy for one set of people, why wouldn’t they be healthy for all people?

Check out this excellent video by ASDAH that perfectly explains the madness around the weight loss paradigm – using poodles!

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12 thoughts on “Even if They’re Fat

  1. Kelly September 10, 2015 / 11:07 am

    I am a Dietitian, specializing in behavioral nutrition therapy and I agree. You just have find the right providers to help you with your ultimate goals in a way that best supports you. . . . . Yes, even if you’re fat . . . .

    • GlenysO September 10, 2015 / 11:13 am

      So true! Unfortunately it can be very difficulty to find HAES-minded, non-diet-minded practitioners! So many still prescribe the old saw of weight loss – even for people who have tried it so many times and – of course – regained the weight.

  2. Katje September 10, 2015 / 8:32 pm

    I can’t like this post enough. <3

  3. Christa Allen September 11, 2015 / 4:02 pm

    “I support people doing nothing at all for health, because health is no one’s obligation, if that’s what they want…even if they’re fat.” -> Really? Which means that anyone can cross any street unsafely because it’s not their obligation. It doesn’t work like that. When I’m paying national insurance I DEMAND that everyone try and be as healthy as they possibly can, because I am essentially paying their hospital bills.

    The poodle video? Complete crap. Why? Because poodles have different skeletons from mastiffs and guess what? Tall people have different skeletons than shorter. So, the ideal weight for 5ft 8 people is X, the ideal weight for 6ft 2 people is Y. The ideal weight for poodles is Z, the ideal weight for mastiffs is B. When you compare two things, be careful that they can be compared. Otherwise it’s like apples and oranges.

    • GlenysO September 11, 2015 / 10:35 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Christa. I’m not sure where you live, but in the US and Canada, no one can demand any type of behavior of anyone else, at least not legally or in any binding way. In the case of demanding that people be as healthy as they can, does this mean you also refuse to pay into national health care for people who drink alcohol to excess on occasion, play sports that may lead to injuries, engage in risky sexual behaviors, smoke, stare at their smart phones as they walk along the street, live in high crime neighborhoods, join the military, run marathons? None of these things prioritize health necessarily, and yet all people are allowed and often encouraged to do these things. So once again, no, health is not an obligation for anyone. Nationalized health care is not dependent on everyone in it being healthy.

      I believe the Poodle Science video is an excellent representation of the idiocy of how we expect all bodies to conform to one size. Poodles and mastiffs are both dogs. They have different skeletons, yes, also different muscle composition and different capacity for fat storage, not to mention different fur! As with humans, we have different skeletons, different muscle composition and different capacity for fat storage, not to mention different skin, hair and eye color, etc. Expecting all bodies to conform to one ideal is unrealistic and doesn’t seem to be working for anyone.

      Again, thank you for your comment and reading my blog!

  4. fatchicksings September 21, 2015 / 2:35 pm

    Yes, THIS. So much THIS.

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