I was in Arizona recently where I attended the Second Annual Binge Eating Disorder Conference put on by BEDA. I got a lot out of Carolyn Coker-Ross’ talk entitled:”Obesity and Binge Eating Disorder: Diagnosing and Treating with an Integrative Approach”. Dr. Coker-Ross is a well-known Eating Disorder and Integrative Medicine Consultant. I want to highlight some of her wisdom in this article.
One point she made which was eye-opening concerns the diet industry. She asked us this question: “Do you know of any business with a 95% failure rate which has succeeded time and time again?” The answer of course, is the diet industry. She pointed out that the diet industry relies on our failure to make its profits.
The most interesting comparison she made was between obesity rates and fat phobia- both are rising exponentially right now, more than they ever have in human history. Here are some sobering statistics she gives on fat phobia:
- 1 in 4 college aged women uses unhealthy dieting measures to lose weight
- Canadian Women’s Health network warns that girls as young as 5 and 6 are dieting
- Girls as young as 3 are already emotionally invested in being thin, to the point where some even will avoid touching game pieces that depict a fat individual
As to why obesity is increasing, she points out the following facts:
- From the 1970s to the 1990s, per capita calorie intake increased by 200 kcal per day. This adds up to one extra pound of weight every 17-18 days.
- Between 1970 and 1990, the US consumption of high-fructose corn syrup increased over 1000% and currently 40% of the sweeteners added to our foods and beverages come from high-fructose corn syrup. This increase runs parallel to the increase in obesity in the US.
She reminded us that there are three distinct body types: endomorphs, mesomorphs, and ectomorphs and that every one of us falls into one of these biological body shapes and that there isn’t a whole lot we can do about it. She also shed some light on the fact that scientific studies are now conclusively showing that being fat is not unhealthy, but that being fat and not fit (or thin and not fit) is unhealthy. She is a big proponent of the “Health At Every Size” movement which stresses focusing on overall health and fitness levels, rather than our weight or size.
I love this excerpt from Linda Bacon, PhD who is at the forefront of the Health at Every Size movement:
“Let’s face facts. We’ve lost the war on obesity. Fighting fat hasn’t made the fat go away. And being thinner, even if we knew how to successfully accomplish it, will not necessarily make us healthier or happier. The war on obesity has taken its toll. Extensive “collateral damage” has resulted: Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health…few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat.
Health at Every Size is the new peace movement.
Very simply, it acknowledges that good health can best be realized independent from considerations of size. It supports people-of all sizes- in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviours.”
The bottom line? Let’s focus on health over some dress size we dream of fitting into…it could literally save your life.