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HealthNotDiets Digest, Issue 7, 2018

February 11 - 17, 2018

As always, if you like what you read here, please support the original author by liking/sharing/following/up-voting/subscribing directly to their feed.

Happy reading!


Articles and Blogs

Thin Is Not The Same As Healthy

from Project Heal

“It’s not that everything you’ve ever learned about the importance of eating nutrient-rich foods and getting regular exercise is wrong. Those things will absolutely make you healthier. What they won’t do is make you thin.”


The not-so-obvious problem with dieting

by Melissa Toler

“for people who are constantly pushed out into the margins because of race, gender, ability, or sexuality, our cultural obsession with weight can complicate things.”


Why we should stop worrying about clean eating, and embrace our love of food

by Kate Lever

"Food is not about morality and it is more than just fuel; it’s about love and joy and freedom and family and friends, and the simple delight of getting icing sugar stuck under your fingernails.”


Why you still need to eat healthy foods — even if you aren't overweight

by Alessandro Demaio

“While it might be easy to take solace in a thinner weight, many of the serious health risks associated with poorer diet are often hidden from plain sight.”

TW: healthism & ableism but good to share with #HAES-curious


“I’m body positive as long as you’re not obese.”

by Your Fat Friend

"There’s a power dynamic that comes with people who call my body obese. It hides otherwise naked disdain behind a gossamer thin veil of medicine, legitimating the bullying and lecturing that will inevitably follow.”


Why do poor Americans eat so unhealthfully? Because junk food is the only indulgence they can afford.

by Priya Fielding-Singh

"Nutritional inequality in the U.S. has more to do with people's socioeconomic status than their geographic location. Living in poverty or affluence affects more than our access to healthy food: It shapes the very meanings we attach to food."


Vintage but relevant:

Weight Watchers Works. For Two Out of a Thousand. (And They Probably Weren’t Fat to Begin With)

by Fatfu

“weight loss industry advocates for decades have been quietly lowering the bar further & further down so their definition of “a successful weight loss program” bears little relation to what the ordinary person would think it means.”


Research &

Clinical Practice

"in the current review, studies of [commercial weight loss programs] that attempted long-term follow-up with participants after completion of the program found that weight rebounded in many participants by 12 months.... In one study, more than one-third of participants weighed more at 2-year follow-up than at baseline." McEvedy, Samantha M (10/2017). "Ineffectiveness of commercial weight-loss programs for achieving modest but meaningful weight loss: Systematic review and meta-analysis". Journal of health psychology (1359-1053), 22 (12), p. 1614.


Attention all clinical, community and public health professionals: Please read this ASAP.

Nuttall, Frank Q. "Body mass index: obesity, BMI, and health: a critical review." Nutrition today 50.3 (2015): 117.


“THE RESULTS OF TREATMENT FOR OBESITY ARE REMARKABLY SIMILAR, AND REMARKABLY POOR” In 1959, Albert Stunkard, esteemed ‘obesity’ researcher, published his review of weight reduction (dieting) studies. His findings have been replicated again and again, yet weight loss studied still receive funding. Such is the fear of weight loss researchers of acknowledging that weight loss efforts are ineffective for most and unacceptably harmful for some. Stunkard, Albert, and Mavis McLaren-Hume. "The results of treatment for obesity: a review of the literature and report of a series." AMA archives of internal medicine 103.1 (1959): 79-85.


Even for people with much larger bodies, physical fitness totally demolishes the cardio-metabolic risk factors usually blamed on weight.

Here's an article which discusses this new research study and interviews the authors:

Original article reference: Do, Kathy, et al. "Association between cardiorespiratory fitness and metabolic risk factors in a population with mild to severe obesity." BMC Obesity 5.1 (2018): 5.



Remember Wansink’s bottomless soup bowl experiment? Well, it turns out the soup (& the kitchen) was stinky.

Here’s a delightful example of forensic statistics, & lesson in benefits of continued scrutiny of behavioral and weight science. (filed under research because it's incredibly detailed....)


I'm geeking out over this chart - It elegantly tells the story of illness burden in Australia across the lifespan 🙂

Warning: in places it gets heavily into burden they relate to 'obesity' without consideration of the impact of stigma or adjustment for health behaviours. Tread carefully.


There's been some push back about the outcry over Weight Watchers and their 'kids (don't eat) free' promotion in the US, with many lifelong customers defending the program. I get it. But below is why health professionals who work with and research eating disorders, dieting and weight control behaviour are horrified.

- Diets (including 'lifestyles' where weight loss is celebrated) don't work for lasting weight loss for anyone (the weight comes back unless you're literally a statistical outlier)

- Weight focus for kids and teenagers affects their mental health, self-concept, ability to engage in life, and provides ammunition for bullying.

- Teenaged dieters turn into adult dieters and lifelong commercial weight loss program/product customers (who KNOW their product doesn't work and rely on brand loyalty and repeat business). In this model, the weight worries NEVER GO AWAY, they're just EXPENSIVE and UNDERMINE PERSONAL AUTONOMY.

Weight science is littered with well-intentioned, unintended negative consequences. What feels or sounds right (even to researchers and doctors) sometimes does the opposite of what you think it will. Please listen to those who know what really happens, and be open to changing your perspective x

Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne, et al. "Dieting and disordered eating behaviors from adolescence to young adulthood: findings from a 10-year longitudinal study." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 111.7 (2011): 1004-1011.


An editorial in Obesity for use with ‘in betweeners’ to move them along the way towards weight neutrality and size acceptance.

Ross, Robert. "Is setting a criterion for ‘clinically significant weight loss’ necessary?." Obesity 24.4 (2016): 791-791.



Like podcasts?

How about bite-sized podcasts that you can claim as professional development?!?

I've designed the Unpacking Weight Science Podcast to suit health professionals, health science students and anyone who wants to know more about human body weight, health outcomes, interpreting weight related research and the far ranging effects of weight bias.

Twice a month, my 20 minute podcast will unpack different elements of weight bias & stigma, weight research, BMI, health behaviours and weight neutral approaches. Paid subscribers (only $5/month!) get the podcast two months before everyone else, plus full show notes, reference list, self-test quiz and resource materials for use in practice. This equates to an hour of professional development each month :-)

First podcast available for subscribers on March 5th is:

'Stuck in a Weight Centric Operating System'


This drives me crazy!

Normal weight fluctuations, particularly in women, bounce up and down within the range that others would consider 'modest weight loss' if they were a research participant in a weight loss study.


Weight loss can happen via a huge number of circumstances, many of which are very definitely bad news (cancer, illness, eating disorder, stress, trauma, poverty, depression, mania, medications). A health enhancing lifestyle is great (if you are able to manage it) but results in visible weight loss for relatively few people. If you are worried about someone you care about’s health, ask them how you can support them through this time, don’t assume weight loss would help. If you notice someone you care about has lost weight, the more rational, evidence informed response is ‘are you okay?’ NOT ‘well done’.




Want these 'live'? Then follow me on Twitter (@FionaWiller), Facebook (@HealthNotDiets) and Instagram (@FionaWiller)

Want some training in the non-diet approach or unpacking weight science? Resources include books, courses, workshops and handouts: visit

See anything you think I'd like to share or comment about? Post in the comments below or email me at

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