It might not seem to make sense but hear me out. It starts with understanding what diet culture is.
Diet culture is the belief that appearance and body size are more important than physical, psychological, and general well-being…
But what if it is our body size that is disrupting our physical, psychological and general well being? We can no longer ignore the root cause now—and that is weight.
Obesity increases the risk of secondary diseases, and this cannot be disputed. In a publication this week from The Lancet, obesity was robustly associated with 21 non-overlapping secondary diseases with the most common being type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
When secondary diseases start to develop, the “health at any size” narrative must also be able to mute itself because it no longer applies.
However, it’s also important to remember that the haes movement grew out of oppression from weight bias in culture. It continues to challenge our biases in society and for this reason, still plays an important role in society.
However, diet culture also encompasses the idea that controlling our body, particularly our diet—by limiting what and how much we eat—is not only normal but also works to lose weight.
This is not only false, but dangerous. Diet culture has completely and consistently duped us for years. It had us believing Suzanne Somer’s Thigh Master would give us her legs, and today that a liquid cleanse will flush us to a size two.
But anything cultural is considered viable.
If thigh masters and liquid cleanses are viable weight loss treatments, then diet culture has convinced us that we are responsible for our weight gain –and weight loss.
Now consider the following.
You have high blood pressure. Let’s say your blood pressure is 178/98 mmHg (Normal average: 120/80 mmHg). Did culture teach you deal with your blood pressure on your own, or see a doctor for medication?
We therefore challenge diet culture, by unlearning it and recognizing that obesity also is a disorder that at minimum needs an assessment by a health care practioner.
No, I am not trying to label obesity a disease to legitimize it for the medical community. That’s some weirdo ownership narrative that I don’t care to address today. But this side narrative is loud, and it distracts us from the reality that excess weight has implications on our physical, psychological and general health.
Obesity is a disorder—and for one second, let’s stop focusing on the actual fat tissue when we think about obesity. We are all getting distracted. The disorder lies within our brain signalling.
In the presence of so much energy stores (eg. fat), our brains should not be feeling unsatiated or hungry. However, we do when living with obesity. There is a complex communication happening between our brain and several hunger/fullness signals in our body (for which we are still learning what they are). This is quite the opposite of a calorie math problem.
Obesity is a biological disorder within our brain hunger/fullness signalling. Anti-obesity medications and bariatric surgery target this exact signalling.
Diet culture becomes less viable when we understand the biological disorder behind excess weight—and even less viable when we treat it, and finally see treatment work.
So, does it still make sense to believe diet culture?