I believe in body autonomy. I believe a person has the right to make whatever decision they want about their body. And sometimes this means fellow humans decide to pursue intentional weight loss. It is their right and it is not ok to judge them for this desire/decision. I think it is really important, even as a weight-inclusive provider, to hold space for this with clients who have this desire or are actively pursuing it (and I also recognize it can take time to be able to do this...at least it did for me). The truth is...there are a lot of us who once pursued intentional weight loss/body changes ourselves and/or promoted intentional weight loss in our practice.
(I cannot speak for everyone, but for me I think it is important to make very clear that my snarkiness, my anger, my sadness, my frustration, etc. about dieting and the pursuit of weight loss is directed at the SYSTEMS OF OPPRESSION, not the individual.)
At the same time, I believe everyone has a right to informed consent and to full disclosure. And when I say informed consent...I mean informing clients on all aspects of an intervention, treatment modality, procedure, etc. This means the pros AND cons and the benefits AND risks.
With regards to the pursuit of weight loss, in particular, too many times clients/customers are not provided the full story. Too many providers, companies, orgs, etc. won’t provide full disclosure and, instead, provide a lot of misinformation around health/weight...some of them just don’t know and some are aware but cannot/won’t see past their own biases and/or greed (it’s a sad reality that weight loss sells...it doesn’t promote long-term health but it sells...and that really sucks).
Weight loss claims are often, and unfortunately, based on misinterpretations of research, biased research, effects of very short-term bouts of intentional weight loss (which isn’t the full story) and sometimes those claims are just completely made-up (the why behind this...usually goes back to oppression, power and greed).
Here are just a few important pieces of information (there are definitely more!) that I believe are imperative to disclose and inform clients about when it comes to the intentional pursuit of weight loss (changes in body composition, “weight management”, etc):
There is Level A Evidence (which is the highest/best forms of evidence) that “weight loss following lifestyle interventions is maximal at 6-12 months. Regardless of the degree of initial weight loss, most weight is regained within a 2-year period and by 5 years the majority of people are at their pre-intervention body weight.” (Department of Health and Ageing, National Health and Medical Research Council. Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia, Melbourne 2013, p161). Thank you Fiona Willer for Unpacking Weight Science!
“Dieting to lose weight, especially without careful monitoring, may contribute to the risk of future [weight gain]...Individuals who wish to lose weight should be warned that common diets that claim to result in sustained weight loss may in fact lead to weight gain.” (Siahpush, Mohammed, et al. “Dieting increases likelihood of subsequent obesity and BMI gain: results from a prospective study of an Australian national sample.” International Journal of Behavioral Health Medicine 22.5 (2015): 662-671). Those “common diets” would include “weight management” programs, pursuing “lifestyles” that claim weight loss will happen, Weight Watchers, Advocare, Whole30, “Keto”, “Counting macros”, etc.
“Weight bias [negative attitudes towards, and beliefs about, others because of their weight] is associated with avoidance of medical care, maladaptive eating patterns, stress-induced pathophysiology, avoidance of physical activity, psychological disorders and body dissatisfaction”….ie. focusing on a person’s weight is NOT the solution and it does do harm! (World Health Organization, 2017)