What is weight-inclusive healthcare?

At Welcome to Wellbeing, we believe all people, regardless of weight status or body shape, should have the opportunity to pursue health behaviours in a warm, compassionate and supportive environment. In this way, we support weight inclusive healthcare- helping support clients of all body sizes to enhance their health and wellbeing without the intention of weight change.

This approach to healthcare is informed by the principles of Health At Every Size, or HAES®, which are as follows:

Weight Inclusivity: Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.

This first principle encourages health professionals to work respectfully with the person they have in front of them, rather than encourage individuals to attempt to change their body size. Working in this way helps to avoid one common issue that individuals at higher weights experience: medical investigations not being performed and diagnoses being missed, as any and all health concerns are blamed on weight.

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.

Emphasising equal access to information and services ensures practitioners aren’t withholding treatment based on body size. This helps to combat another common experience of those at higher weights: healthcare practitioners offering evidence-based treatment to someone at a lower weight, while instead instructing someone with the same concerns at a higher weight to lose weight.

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.

This principle supports inclusivity in healthcare. Weight stigma involves discrimination or stereotyping based on someone’s weight, which in healthcare can have dire consequences. It is important to acknowledge that for many people discrimination due to their body size also intersects with other minority groups they’re part of, and addressing this in healthcare is important.

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.

This principle promotes an intuitive eating style, with food choices being based on internal cues rather than external rules. These choices can be informed by any nutrition principles that are relevant to an individual, but still come from a place of permission rather than restriction.

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.

This principle emphasises the importance of accessibility and choice in physical activity. Rather than idealising one specific form of movement as best for everybody, we encourage individuals to find movement that’s enjoyable and accessible to them. This also places no obligation on individuals to do a certain amount of physical activity.

At Welcome to Wellbeing, we are proud to be a team of weight inclusive dietitians. If you are interested in this approach to your health, feel free to reach out in the “Contact Us” section.

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