What is the Weight Inclusive Approach?

Weight Inclusive Approach

In recent years, the conversation about food and nutrition has shifted from weight loss to Health at Every Size , and it’s about time. Weight inclusiveness is a movement that seeks to improve your health regardless of your body size. A weight-inclusive approach to nutritional care takes this idea a step further, incorporating the principles of Health at Every Size into the way we talk and think about food and nutrition.

Weight-inclusive nutrition isn’t about counting calories or macros – it’s about making informed food decisions based on your own body’s inner wisdom. So what does a weight-inclusive approach to nutrition look like? Read on to find out!

Weight Stigma and How It Affects Health Care

Weight stigma is discrimination or prejudice against people who live in larger bodies. It ranges from negative attitudes and beliefs to outright discrimination and abuse. This stigma can lead to reduced opportunities for work, education, and social interaction, and can also affect the quality of health care people receive ( 1 ).

Weight stigma is harmful because it can contribute to feelings of shame, guilt, and inferiority. It can also cause stress and anxiety, which can have a negative impact on health. Additionally, weight stigma can prevent people from seeking necessary medical care, which can lead to more serious health problems.

Because of this stigma, women especially are less likely to mention any symptoms to their providers if they feel ashamed of their weight. As this article notes , “45 percent of women have canceled or postponed a doctor’s appointment until they could lose a few pounds.”

Some studies ( 2 ) suggest that doctors spend less time with patients who have larger bodies and provide them with less information about their health.

Patients who have experienced weight bias from healthcare professionals often have worse treatment outcomes. They are also less likely to seek care in the future. Anti-weight bias also makes it more difficult for people to get age-appropriate cancer screenings, which can lead to delays in the detection of breast, gynecologic, and colorectal cancers ( 3 ).

What is a weight-focused approach?

Weight-focused care is the dominant paradigm in healthcare today, but this approach is harmful for several reasons.

First, weight is very subjective, mostly genetically predetermined , and can vary widely from individual to individual. As such, weight-focused attention tends to pathologize weight and body size, viewing weight as inherently unhealthy or problematic.

Additionally, weight-focused care tends to focus heavily on weight loss and control, placing emphasis on reducing body weight as a primary health concern. This approach not only ignores other important factors in health outcomes, such as mental well-being, access to healthcare services and social support, but also places undue and unrealistic pressure on those who struggle with their weight.

Diets and weight cycling

Intentional weight loss through dieting often leads to becoming trapped in an endless cycle of dieting and weight fluctuations. Fluctuations in weight, also known as yo-yo dieting , have been associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease and risk of dying from heart disease ( 4 ).

Most public health strategies openly embrace the stigmatization of people living in larger bodies, based on the assumption that shame will motivate them to change behavior and achieve “weight loss” through self-directed dieting. and greater physical exercise.

However, both observational and randomized controlled studies ( 5 ) show that these strategies can have the opposite effect and can instead induce avoidance of exercise, adoption of unsafe dietary practices, and increased mental and emotional stress. This can lead to poor metabolic health, increased weight cycling, and reduced quality of life.

Ultimately, an approach to care that is weight-inclusive presents a much healthier and more compassionate paradigm for the advancement of healthcare.

What is a body neutrality approach?

A body neutral approach is an approach to health and body image that recognizes that weight and body size are not inherently a problem in and of themselves. Rather, weight-neutral approaches (such as the Health at Every Size paradigm ) seek to promote the health and well-being of all people, regardless of their weight or body size.

This can be achieved by avoiding weight discrimination and stigma, as well as fostering a supportive environment in which people feel free to make decisions about their health based on their personal priorities rather than weight-related pressures. .

A weight-neutral approach can help people of all sizes achieve health and balance in their lives, without shaming them about their weight or trying to transform them into the “thin ideal.” By promoting weight-neutral thinking and behaviors, this approach represents a new way of thinking about weight and well-being that allows people to prioritize their physical, emotional and social needs over concerns about weight. As such, it can be truly transformative for anyone who embraces it.

Ultimately, a body neutrality approach seeks to promote positive body image and respect for all people, regardless of weight or appearance.

What does weight inclusivity mean?

Weight inclusivity is an approach that recognizes the unique needs and experiences of people of all body sizes. This approach recognizes that weight stigma can have negative effects on both physical and mental health, and seeks to eliminate weight-based discrimination by promoting positive weight messages.

At its core, weight-inclusive thinking is about recognizing the complexity of body size and promoting understanding, compassion, and care for people of all sizes and shapes. This can take many different forms, such as non-diet nutritional counseling , body positivity workshops in schools and communities, or public education campaigns that focus on diversity and weight respect.

By embracing diversity and creating spaces where all body types are welcome and accepted, weight inclusion advocates hope to build healthier communities for everyone. Weight-inclusive spaces encourage you to embrace your body without judgment or shame. Ultimately, this movement is about promoting self-love and celebrating all bodies as worthy of respect and equality.

What is inclusive weight care?

Weight-inclusive care is a growing movement in the healthcare community that prioritizes the needs and concerns of all patients, regardless of their weight or size.

This approach recognizes the unique challenges and obstacles that people with weight issues face in their interactions with healthcare providers, such as stigma, discrimination, and idealization of weight loss. By adopting weight-inclusive care practices, healthcare professionals can provide more compassionate and affirming treatment for all patients, helping to eliminate weight stigma and improve overall health outcomes for people of all sizes. Ultimately, weight-inclusive care represents a major step forward in promoting health equity and social justice within our healthcare system.

Benefits of the weight-inclusive approach

People who use a weight-inclusive approach see significant improvements in their health. This includes ( 6 ):

  • Improved physical movement
  • Sustainable and balanced eating habits
  • Reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Better self-esteem and mood
  • Reduction of disordered eating behaviors
  • Weight stability

Intuitive eating has also been associated with improvements in blood glucose control in people with diabetes ( 7 ).

In contrast, research ( 8 ) shows that focusing on weight loss can be unsustainable and harmful. People often feel bad about themselves when trying to lose weight, which can worsen mental health, body image, and relationship with food.

What are the principles of Health at Every Size®?

Health at Every Size is at the center of a weight-inclusive approach to health and nutrition. Let’s take a closer look at this paradigm.

The Health at Every Size model is based on the following principles:

  1. Weight inclusivity:Accept and respect the fact that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. It also means rejecting idealized and “specific” weights or body shapes.
  2. Health improvements:Considering the individual as a whole when providing health services, such as taking into account their individual physical, emotional, spiritual, social and economic needs. This also means supporting health policies that improve and equal access to information and services.
  3. Respectful Care:Understand that weight stigma is influenced by age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and support environments that address these inequalities. This principle also helps healthcare providers recognize our own biases and work to end weight-related discrimination, stigma, and bias.
  4. Eating for Wellbeing:This principle calls for promoting “flexible and individualized eating based on hunger , satiety , nutritional needs and pleasure …”, rather than an externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control ( read: diets).
  5. Life-enhancing movement:Instead of structured physical activities, this principle is about supporting physical activities “that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement , to the extent they choose.” Choose is the key word here. What’s the point of practicing physical activity if it’s something we don’t enjoy or that doesn’t make us feel good, right?

Nutrition under a weight-inclusive approach

Weight-inclusive nutrition is a type of nutritional counseling that emphasizes health, rather than weight loss. This approach focuses on non-diet techniques, such as intuitive eating, compassionate nutrition , and overall wellness.

Instead of trying to restrict calories or evaluate foods based on their potential for weight loss, weight-inclusive counselors emphasize cultivating a healthy relationship with food and the body. They help their clients develop a more balanced perspective on food and nutrition, recognizing the importance of pleasure, satisfaction and emotional well-being in addition to physical health.

Overall, the weight-inclusive approach seeks to create an empowering environment in which people can learn to listen to what their bodies tell them about their individual needs and goals. Whether you are looking to improve your blood glucose levels or simply engage in balanced eating habits, weight-inclusive nutrition can help you achieve your goals in a holistic and supportive way.

How does it work

This is how weight-inclusive nutrition helps you nourish yourself in a much more compassionate way:

  • Looking at the big picture. Weight-inclusive nutrition emphasizes that one meal, snack, or food choice will not make or break you. The way you eat and relate to food over time is what matters in terms of your health.
  • Including a wide variety of foods. Diet culture often encourages us to eliminate foods and food groups based on the “good food/bad food” mentality. But our bodies aren’t meant to eliminate entire food groups. In fact, the more varied our diets are, the more nutrients we will include.

Allowing you flexibility . Intuitive eating is not about eating perfectly. It’s about recognizing that you don’t have to eat a certain way to promote your health. Flexibility means that some days you will eat more “fun” foods, and some days you will eat more nutritionally dense foods–and that’s okay! Everything will average out over time and your health will not be affected.

  • Learn to trust yourself around “fun” foods . Your body never wants too much of anything. If you slow down enough while eating and really learn to listen to what your body is telling you, you’ll discover that there really is no such thing as being “out of control” with food. Especially when it comes to including “fun” foods without unnecessary food guilt .
  • Make intentional decisions . Choosing to eat (or not eat) a food from a place of honoring your health and taste preferences. Eventually, this will help you identify which foods feel and taste good to you. It can also show you how you can sustainably incorporate those foods into your eating pattern.

When you apply compassionate nutrition instead of following strict food rules, making food decisions based on what your body needs becomes second nature and you learn to eat the way you were born to. This form of nutrition focuses on getting rid of the diet mentality and instead getting back to basics.


I hope this article has helped highlight the importance of a weight-inclusive approach to nutrition and healthcare. No one should feel like they are excluded or that their needs are not important.

As healthcare recipients, we must demand these types of services from our providers. If you don’t have a provider who is willing to work with you in this way, consider finding one who is. You’re worth it!

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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