It Happened Last January: The Truth About the Health Risks of Fat


Playing a little catch-up here, the result of a presentation I debuted yesterday at Green Mountain. In it, I reviewed a few of the conclusions from a paper published last January (hence the title of this post) in the Nutrition Journal by Linda Bacon of HAES fame and Lucy Aphramor.  It’s titled “Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift,” and looks closely at the underlying assumptions surrounding a focus on weight loss as a way to address health problems that appear to be associated with larger body sizes.

The paper is packed with so much important information, it’s hard to pick out which snippets to share with you here.  It’s really best to read the paper. Here’s one quote from the press release distributed when the study was released that may encourage you to do that.  It really got the attention of my class yesterday.

“Although health professionals may mean well when they suggest that people lose weight, our analysis indicates that researchers have long interpreted research data through a biased lens,” Bacon said. “When the data are reconsidered without the common assumption that fat is harmful, it is overwhelmingly apparent that fat has been highly exaggerated as a risk for disease or decreased longevity.”

And this.

“For decades, the United States’ public health establishment and $58.6 billion-a-year private weight-loss industry have focused on health improvement through weight loss,” she said. “The result is unprecedented levels of body dissatisfaction and failure in achieving desired health outcomes. It’s time to consider a more evidence-based approach.”

And this.

“Aphramor added: “It’s the unintended negative consequences that are particularly troubling, including guilt, anxiety, preoccupation with food and body shape, repeated cycles of weight loss and gain, reduced self esteem, eating disorders and weight discrimination.”’

We couldn’t agree more.  That’s why our program at Green Mountain has long been focused on helping women adopt attitudes, beliefs and behaviors about/around food, eating, physical activity, weight and self that are sustainable because they help us feel good now, not at some future point when we’ve reached a “magic” number on the scale. We talk about weight loss on our site because we’re playing the SEO game and talking to women who don’t understand our approach yet.  But healthy weight loss is an outcome of our approach, not the focus.  We work to help women change their focus from weight to how they feel, helping them become mindful eaters (aka intuitive eaters), learn to enjoy moving their bodies again, improve body image, and build self esteem. Because our work over the last 40 years has shown that’s what’s sustainable. It’s the Health at Every SizeSM approach that’s all about living our lives now and that research shows “is associated with statistically and clinically relevant improvements in physiological measures (e.g. blood pressure, blood lipids), health behaviors (e.g. physical activity, eating disorder pathology) and psychosocial outcomes (e.g, mood, self-esteem, body image).”

Again, read the paper.  It’s well worth the time.

Then go out there and enjoy your weekend, eating well, getting some fun physical activity, feeling good about yourself!



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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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