Health At Every Size HAES ®

In a ‘nutshell’ what is Health At Every Size ®?

Health At Every Size HAES® is an approach to well-being that maintains that body weight is a poor determinant of health. HAES® places an acknowledgement of the sociocultural and political determinants of health at the forefront of considerations that should drive ethical and compassionate health care.

To achieve ‘health’ (that word itself a highly subjective and loaded idea), HAES® promotes the practice of behaviours that support health rather than idealising a standardised goal weight to be achieved by weight reduction strategies. At its core, HAES® is wise, holistic, humanistic, evidence based and is highly compatible with Attuned, Intuitive or Mindful Eating practices.

Tara has worked in the HAES® paradigm for more than two decades and is continually inspired by the positive effect that this has on her client’s lives and sense of wellbeing.

What are the key principles of Health At Every Size ® ?

The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) has evolved these key HAES® principles:

WEIGHT INCLUSIVITY
Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.

HEALTH ENHANCEMENT
Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional and other needs.

EATING FOR WELL-BEING
Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.

RESPECTFUL CARE
Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.

LIFE-ENHANCING MOVEMENT
Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.

These principles can be downloaded on the ASDAH website here

Why is Health at Every Size ® Important in Eating Disorder care?

As dieting has become the cultural norm we have seen the incidence of eating disorders in the community increase at alarming rates. Whilst the development of disordered eating is complex and multi-factorial there is strong consensus amongst eating disorder professionals that the widespread use of dieting in the community is a causal part of this increasing trend.

HAES® is an extremely important foundational philosophy for the promotion of health that simultaneously works to prevent the development of disordered eating. In our current cultural climate steeped in the thin ideal, HAES® offers a much needed circuit breaker that promotes health without endorsing weight loss dieting.

The HAES® approach is especially vital for Dietitians who provide advice for clients with weight concern. The important influence of HAES® in ethical and evidence based Dietetic practice was recently acknowledged in the Journal of The American Dietetic Association:

Risks for eating pathology increase with dietary changes and weight management efforts. ….To promote body acceptance and lessen the risk of disordered eating, [Dietitians’] messages should support health-centered behaviours, rather than weight-centered dieting”. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111:1236-1241.

If you are interested in reading more about HAES® visit healthateverysizeblog.org, this is a must-read blog. This Blog receives monthly contributions from invited experts in health promotion and social justice, including Australia’s own Dr Rick Kausman, author of If Not Dieting Then What?

Health At Every Size ®  and HAES®  are Registered Trademarks of ASDAH and are used with Permission