What Does “Health at Every Size” Mean?

Healthcare providers have traditionally used weight-based metrics like Body Mass Index (BMI) to assess health, which has created a culture that prioritizes dieting and weight loss as means to become healthy. Emphasizing weight and diet in this way can promote disordered eating and reinforces unhealthy social standards around body size. 

In contrast, the Health at Every Size (HAES) framework–used by UHS dietitians and eating disorder providers–combats this traditional weight-centric approach, and instead prioritizes listening to your body, eating what feels right for you and physical movement. HAES is based on five principles: weight inclusivity, health enhancement, respectful care, eating for wellbeing, and life-enhancing movement, all of which support building healthy habits, as opposed to fixating on weight status. 

“It’s pretty common for students to come in looking for help with weight loss because they’ve been told that it’s required for health,” says UHS dietitian Alicia Bosscher. “We have the opportunity to help them see that healthy bodies come in all sizes.”

Excerpted from University of Wisconsin-Madison Health Services

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