Category Archives: Weight Management

Brain Over Binge 

Brain Over Binge

After six years of chronic bingeing and purging, Kathryn Hansen stopped her eating disorder independently and abruptly, using the power of her own brain.

I recently heard Kathryn’s story while listening to the Nutrition Matters podcast. Her story was powerful and her approach to recovery sounded compelling. She also sounded very bright, and she supported her ideas with research. So, I purchased and read her book, Brain Over Binge, to learn more.   Continue reading

Is Obesity Really the Killer It’s Made Out to Be?

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If obesity is really unhealthy, then people living in larger bodies should be more likely to die than thinner people.  Are they?

Biostatistician Katherine Flegal reviewed over 140 studies to answer this question (Flegal, 2013).  What she found may surprise you:

  • People in the ‘overweight’ category (BMI 25-30) had a slightly lower risk of death than those in the ‘normal’ weight category.
  • People in the ‘obese’ category (BMI 30-35) had an equal risk of death as people in the ‘normal’ weight category.
  • People in the ‘obesity classes II and III’ (BMI > 35) only had a greater risk of death if they were under the age of 65.  Their risk of death was 1.3x greater than people in the ‘normal’ weight group.  (To put that number in perspective, the risk of developing lung cancer is 30x greater among people who smoke compared to people who do not smoke.)

A number of other studies found similar results (Grabowski 2001, Steersman 2009, Oprana 2010, Tamakoshi 2010, Flegal 2005, Janssen 2007, Lantz 2010, Toriano 1996; see also:  Bacon 2011).

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Pursue Pleasure to Improve Health

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Do you really need to kill yourself to save your life?  You might think so, if you look at the way some health fanatics strictly follow their diet or exercise plans.  However, not-so-novel research suggests that being healthy is much easier and more fun than we’ve made it out to be.  In Healthy Pleasures, an old but timeless book, authors Robert Ornstein, PhD and Davis Sobel, MD identify life’s simple pleasures and describe the proven ways they contribute to health and well-being.   Continue reading

Why I am adopting a Health at Every Size® approach

After nearly five years, I have decided to leave my job in medical weight management to practice a Health at Every Size® (HAES®) approach.

Here’s why:

Dieting does more harm than good.  Research shows that dieting is more likely to lead to weight gain than weight loss.  A review of 31 weight loss studies found that dieting was ineffective at producing long term weight loss, and one-third to two-thirds of dieters gained more weight than they lost (Mann et al, 2007).  Calorie restriction leads to preoccupation with food, binge eating and weight obsession.

Weight loss messages contribute to weight stigma.  Weight loss messages perpetuate the idea that anyone can lose weight, and that “overweight” people are lazy or lack willpower. In reality, weight is determined by a complex interaction between genes, environment and social influences. Once a set-point weight range is established, the brain works hard to defend it (Sumatran and Proietto, 2013).  Size diversity should be respected and embraced, just like other types of diversity.

Weight loss is not necessary for health improvement.  People who exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and practice other forms of self-care can improve their health, without losing weight (Matheson et al. 2012; Schaefer and Magnuson, 2014.)

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Dangerous Diet Traps to Avoid

Mouse_TrapDieting is not a healthful practice and can lead to weight gain in the long run (Mann 2007).  Here are 5 specific diet traps to avoid, and alternatives to try.

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Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming (Book Review)

childs-weightEvery parent and dietitian should read Ellyn Satter’s Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming.  Ellyn Satter is a registered dietitian and family therapist, and is considered to be the leading expert on feeding and raising healthy kids.

In the book, Satter refutes the idea that parents must force their children to eat less and exercise more to lose weight.  In the long run, this technique backfires, as children become preoccupied with food and turned off to physical activity.  Rather, Ellyn coaches parents to feed well, parent well, and allow children to grow up to get the bodies that are right for them.

For a summary of the books main points, read on, or click here for a PDF summary from Satter herself.

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Why is Maintaining Weight Loss so Challenging?

Recent research provides some insight as to why maintaining weight loss is especially difficult.  View this clip from the Weight of the Nation documentary series for an explanation.

Note: You don’t need to pursue weight loss to improve your health.  Learn about a Health at Every Size approach.