(PRWEB) August 24, 2006
You are desperate to lose weight. You look in the mirror and you see “fat and ugly.” You’ve heard the obesity fears trumpeted repeatedly – our eating habits are killing us, 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, we’re the first generation that’s going to die younger than our parents… Well, now you can dump the despair, as there is hope on the horizon. Tune in to the "Size Matters, Too" On-Line Radio Show with the Velvet Voice of Size Diversity, Veronica Cook–Euell, as she interviews Dr. Linda Bacon, who gives us a fresh, new outlook.
Dr. Bacon’s no lightweight to this topic – she’s actually developed, tested and published the results of a program, called Health at Every Size, designed to get people off the diet merry-go-round and develop a healthy relationship with food and themselves. It showed that after completing the program, you can emerge with better health, self esteem, nutrition and a relationship with food that’s as healthy as your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
To Bacon, Health at Every Size is a no-brainer, and her research results weren’t surprising. She studied this topic from all angles before designing the research. She’s earned a doctorate in physiology, specializing in weight regulation, from the University of California, Davis, and two graduate degrees, one in psychology, specializing in eating disorders and body image, and the other in kinesiology, specializing in exercise metabolism. She also has professional experience as a researcher, clinical psychotherapist, exercise physiologist, consultant and educator.
Her education and experience made it evident to her that the science of weight regulation directly contradicts cultural assumptions as well as those promoted by the “experts.” Both academic study and her clinical work revealed a disconnect: what is clearly known about weight regulation just doesn’t reach the general public or influence public health policy and recommendations.
In fact, there is substantial evidence that suggests that people can be healthy at any size – and that health habits play a much larger role in determining health than the scale. And “overweight” people are actually living longer than “normal weight” people!
Bacon is also very critical of the dieting research. “There has never been a study that documents long-term maintenance of weight loss for any but a tiny percentage of participants. No matter how many times we change our vocabulary, fiddle with the proportions of protein, carbohydrates or fat, we keep getting the same result: weight regain!,” says Bacon. “Now why are so invested in prescribing a plan with decades of research documenting its failure?”
Even the lose-weight-through-exercise literature shows the same disconnect, that people regain initial weight loss – even when they maintain their exercise programs! The point is not to give up on exercise, says Bacon, but to change your attitude. When exercise is promoted for weight loss or disease prevention, it’s an act of self criticism – and people give up if they don’t see the weight loss they want. On the other hand, if they value exercise as a means towards pleasure, vitality, and experiencing the wonderful power of their bodies, it’s an act of self-nurturance – much easier to sustain.
Bacon’s research actually compared the Health at Every Size (HAES) program to a well-respected diet/exercise program. In contrast to the phenomenal improvements sustained by participants in the HAES, program, the dieters regained the initial weight loss, and lost any initial health improvements at study end, which is entirely consistent with previous diet research. There was high drop-out among dieters, and their self-esteem plummeted at the end of the study.
The answer to America’s weight problem, says Bacon, has nothing to do with dieting or self-denial, and everything to do with eating and self-affirmation. “Your body has a very effective system for keeping you at a healthy weight – if you are willing to trust it. Far from being the demons they are portrayed to be, hunger and pleasure are part of your body’s built-in intelligence intended to keep you nourished and healthy.” If we only learned to let our bodies do what they do best, we could achieve a healthy weight and improve our overall health without even trying.
Bacon is a strong advocate for encouraging people to accept their size – and focus on what matters. If people make lifestyle changes, she says, perhaps they’ll lose weight as a side effect. But they might not, and we need to be open to that. Too many times people start to make lifestyle changes, and then give up when they don’t get the weight effects they want.
Repeated admonitions that we are too fat and need to lose weight, especially when failed attempts at weight loss have such negative ramifications (eating disorders, weight cycling and associated increased cardiovascular disease risk, etc.), have taken their toll, says Bacon. Whether we are fat, believe that we are fat, fear becoming fat, few people are at peace with their bodies.
Bacon is concerned that this war we’re waging on obesity (which we’re clearly losing) has caused much more harm than good. She’s putting out the clarion call to stop fighting, describing the Health at Every Size movement as the new peace movement. The premise is simple: support people in feeling good about the body they live in. Encourage them in healthy lifestyle habits that support their amazing bodies. Thin people (who also are subject to diabetes, heart disease, etc.) will benefit, as will larger people.
To listen in to the show, tune in to http://www.sizematterstoo.com and click on "listen to this week's show".
To find out more about Bacon’s work, check out: http://www.lindabacon.org. Bacon is currently completing a manuscript entitled Healthy at Every Size: Finding your Happy Weight and has several other writing projects underway.