Experts weigh the heavy impact words have when creating policies for better health

October 20, 2011

Are words weighing down America's ability to improve its health? According to a group of weight and health experts assembled by the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, the answer is yes. There is a need for media and policymakers to more responsibly address weight-related health issues, the experts said, and remove the verbal barriers that are getting in the way of a more informed, responsible conversation.

"With plaguing our health and driving up costs, we can no longer afford to overlook how weight relates to health," said Alliance Director Christine Ferguson, J.D. "Improving how we talk about weight and health in media and policy is step one to how we will improve our health."

The STOP Obesity Alliance, in conjunction with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), developed the new weight and health discussion guidelines for policymakers, released today during a national webinar. The new guidelines are designed to help policymakers more responsibly address weight-related .

The recommendations emphasize that despite the pervasiveness of inaccurate depictions of weight-related issues in the media and popular culture, policymakers need to understand that both individual choices and societal factors impact weight status. Specifically, the recommendations call for policymakers to responsibly address weight and health by adhering to the following evidence-based principles when discussing and developing weight-related :

  • Weight is about health, not appearance.
  • Weight status does not necessarily reflect .
  • It takes more than to maintain a healthy weight—a strong support system is necessary.
  • Body size and shape are influenced by inherited and environmental factors.
  • BMI is one of many factors in determining a person's weight status as it relates to health.
  • Incremental and sustained weight loss advised by a doctor is safe and healthy—whereas crash diets are dangerous and can contribute to negative health outcomes.
The STOP Obesity Alliance and its Task Force on Women strongly support the new guidelines and are encouraging the public to take action in helping to gain their acceptance among . The more than 20 groups that make up the Task Force are promoting a "Call to Action," asking individuals to contact their legislators and urge them to review and follow the recommendations.

"We must all make good, responsible choices when it comes to our health, but we also need policies that will support environments where good choices are possible," said Ferguson. "Until legislators focus on weight as a matter of health, policies will not be effective in addressing the nation's serious weight-related health challenges."

Explore further: Are words weighing down the development of policy for better health?

More information: Click here to read the full set of recommendations: www.stopobesityalliance.org/

Related Stories

A doctor's words can enforce weight stigma

September 26, 2011

The language that health care providers use when discussing a child's weight with parents can reinforce negative weight-based stigma and jeopardize discussions about health, finds a study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy ...

Recommended for you

Big Data can save lives, says leading cancer expert

May 16, 2016

The sharing of genetic information from millions of cancer patients around the world could be key to revolutionising cancer prevention and care, according to a leading cancer expert from Queen's University Belfast.

New soap to ward off malaria carrying mosquitoes

May 13, 2016

(Medical Xpress)—Gérard Niyondiko along with colleagues Frank Langevin and Lisa Barutel has posted a project on the crowd source funding site ulule for a product called Faso Soap. They claim the soap can cut in half the ...

Smartphones uncover how the world sleeps

May 6, 2016

A pioneering study of worldwide sleep patterns combines math modeling, mobile apps and big data to parse the roles society and biology each play in setting sleep schedules.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.