|From TV shows to finding clothes that|
fit, it is obvious that our society has
no patience for "people of size".
So today, I work within my small community and try my best to make positive changes where I can. I do not (and never will) offer "Biggest Loser" - type weight loss contests, I will never stand up in front of a group and tell them what they "should" eat and how they "should" behave. I will never forget that everyone has the right to live their life however they wish (give or take hurtful behaviour). I will always try and remember that research is fleeting and nothing is set in stone. I don't have to tell you, it makes my job a little harder as ...let's be honest...the health promotion field includes many "moral judgements wrapped up in scientific packages" (Pirrko Markula, UBC research in the field of sociology and the body..and my personal hero).
So imagine my mixed emotion (a large amount of frustration coupled with a side order of relief) when one of our "experts" emailed a new study that suggests the Biggest Loser promotes nothing but a big, fat, weight bias.
The researchers examined how exposure to 40-min of The Biggest Loser affected participants’ levels of weight bias amongst 59 participants (majority of whom were white females), who were randomly assigned to either an experimental (one episode of The Biggest Loser) or control (one episode of a nature reality show) condition.Not only this, but I have noticed a wave of information on health lately related to the latest superfood or wrist slap for those who are gluttonous and sloth-like. I feel a professional responsibility to peruse the health news each morning so I may armour up for any questions that may come my way.
Levels of weight bias as measured by the Implicit Associations Test (IAT), the Obese Person Trait Survey (OPTS), and the Anti-fat Attitudes scale (AFA) at baseline and following the episode viewing (1 week later), showed that viewers of The Biggest Loser had significantly higher levels of dislike of overweight individuals and more strongly believed that weight is controllable after the exposure.
Interestingly, amongst the participants, those who had lower BMIs and were not trying to lose weight had significantly higher levels of dislike of overweight individuals following exposure to The Biggest Loser compared to similar participants in the control condition.
These results clearly indicate that anti-fat attitudes increase after brief exposure to weight-loss reality television, especially perhaps in people with lower BMI.
Given the impact that anti-weight bias has on all aspects of trying to find solutions to obesity (from public health messaging to funding for obesity research or treatments), not to mention its devastating emotional and physical impact on people living with excess weight, perhaps it is time to revisit social norms and acceptability of this form of entertainment.
These shows are not a solution - they are part of the problem!
Source: Domoff, et al., Bowling Green State University., Ohio, USA
An example of this occurred just last night at a fabulous gathering of fabulous women-friends. In truth, we are a board, but after the meeting it turned into a free-for-all. All of a sudden, the subject turned to nutrition and weight loss and I found myself in the middle of a series of questions all coming at me at the same time. Others were adding their two cents while I felt a growing uneasiness with the subject matter. Questions relating to the best diet for weight loss, whether supplements are necessary, what do I think of ..(I'm sorry, what was the name of that fancy chemical again?). All I could think was health and nutrition needn't be this scientific nor detailed. I felt like I was drowning in a subject matter that really doesn't matter (if you want to attain Real Life Health). Is it healthy to scrutinize the ingredients of an innocent wafer for any traces of wheat? Unless you have an allergy toward it, I don't believe a trace will effect the body's homeostasis...but it may effect your mental health.
|As one woman put it so well last night, "Organic is a bunch of crap (although she didn't say crap)!"|
- Manage your stress so you can absorb and get the best out of what you are eating.
- Eat whole foods; do not purchase anything processed (anything with more than 6 ingredients or ingredients you can't pronounce).
- Get out; get active. It doesn't matter what you do (eg. an energetic bout of lovemaking may be equal to the health benefits of a spin class)...I'm just sayin'
- Avoid as much sugar as you can. I have a feeling the results are coming in and they ain't good. Sugar is a toxin that will shake your body out of balance. I believe it may be the route to many chronic diseases.
- Attend to your emotional health. Be aware of your feelings and how to verbalize them. Allow yourself to feel the crappy ones and try not to mask them with shopping, eating, TV watching, or with the demon liquor (not that I would know anything about that).
- Enjoy your food, your friends, your family, your romance, and try not to worry about every trace of ingredient in your food (unless it makes you literally ill). That's not was life is about.
On that note, have a happy Easter. I hope you run into a chocolate egg and it accidentally falls into your mouth (those are the best accidents).