|Although this disordered type of eating|
has yet to be added to the diagnostic
manuals, a strict focus on eating healthy
can be harmful to your health.
At the same time, surveillance medicine was growing in practice. You know, those charts and scales that tell us if we are "good" moral citizens of health (or if we are lazy, gluttonous, and sloth-like)? The Body Mass Index (BMI) comes to mind as well as percentiles that label our kids too short, fat, or stupid for their age group. These measurements would help apply the "motivation" necessary to get the fat eating less and exercising more or eat more veggies and less saturated fat. Although there were many positives to this population health approach, it would also serve as a great way to blame the individual for their health (instead of the environment, the government, or the medical system).
The health promotion movement, in my educated and experienced point of view, has caused more harm than good. I have noticed a great divide between the "moral, upstanding, intelligent, do-gooders" that cling to their regimen of hard-core exercise and caloric restriction and the "immoral, lazy, unintelligent, energy-sucks" that "choose" to let themselves go, get fat, eat crap, and cost tax payers money. The health promotion movement has created a population of judgers while there is no real science backing up their healthy behaviours. I could write a book on the unhealthy and unsafe practices that make up the fitness industry and you can't throw a bunch of organic kale without hitting a new book on the confusion that makes up nutritional science. What we know about the promotion of health has been built on nothing but personal interest, the drive for perfection, and our society's definition of beauty.
The results of the movement for health promotion includes a rise in eating and exercise disorders in children and adults, shame and depression leading to an increase in suicide and suicide attempt / ideation in obese kids and adults, and the growth of an industry that doesn't make any sense. I loved being a health promoter, but now I feel ashamed I was a part of this. At one point I did judge those who ate "crap" and chose not to exercise. I believed it was the individuals responsibility and if they strayed from the path of righteousness, they should pay for their own health care. I was the definitive health promoter. But now I am more aware. I'm aware of the illness health promotion has caused and it does make me cry when I think about it enough (so I won't think about that now, I'll think about that tomorrow - Scarlett O'Hara).
I am doing what I can to get out of the health promotion business. Although I still want to implement physical activity as therapy and I still want to add nutritional counselling as a way to deal with mental health, I will not be catering to an industry that has more to do about judgement and looking good than it does with authentic health.