Have you ever felt like, no matter what you do to control your weight, you always end up right back where you started? Have you been told that obesity is a choice, or that living in a larger body is simply a result of laziness and lack of willpower?
In reality, science has not reached a consensus on what causes obesity. A recent New York Times article highlighted main takeaways from a 3-day scientific discussion meeting where research scientists presented theories regarding the causes of obesity. While a variety of diverse and compelling arguments were made, the researchers agreed on one key point: contrary to common belief, weight status is not 100% controllable. Because there is no sole cause of obesity, there is also no simple solution. This directly contradicts the diet rhetoric that is ubiquitous in our culture, touting the magic of restrictive fad diets, expensive supplements, and so-called “detoxes”. For anyone who has struggled with their weight and fallen victim to such gimmicky weight loss programs and products: we see you, and we are here to help.
As the New York Times journalist points out, weight stigma and shame-based treatment of obesity have been shown to perpetuate poor health outcomes and even further promote weight gain in those living in larger bodies. At Lori Lieberman & Associates, we understand that individual responsibility only goes so far in determining weight and health outcomes–we strive to provide care that is not based in blame and shame, but rather in respect and support of all bodies. Instead of focusing on weight as a primary health outcome, we encourage clients to develop healthy behaviors that are flexible, sustainable, and empowering. By accepting that weight status is multi-faceted and not solely a result of personal choice or willpower, we can focus on more meaningful measures of wellbeing that improve quality of life, not diminish it as dieting does.