Will we solve the obesity crisis by simply telling people to “eat less and eat better”? A one-day health professional forum was held in Toronto on April 28th to rethink our messages about food and obesity. The event featured key leaders in obesity research/treatment and health communications:
- Dr. Ayra Sharma (Chair for Obesity Research and Management, University of Alberta)
- Ted Kyle (Founder, ConscienHealth)
- Sue Mah (President, Nutrition Solutions and Co-Founder, Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists)
Here’s what these experts were saying…
Dr. Ayra Sharma
Chair for Obesity Research and Management, University of Alberta
- Obesity is a complex chronic disease.
- Simplistic messages about obesity are misleading, can promote unhealthy weight obsession and promote bias and discrimination.
- Prevention and intervention strategies should focus on improving health behaviours rather than on just changing body weight.
- Use respectful, people-first language that is free of bias and stigma – e.g. “unhealthy weight” or “high BMI” instead of “fat” or “morbidly obese”.
- “Obese” is a harmful label. “Obesity” is a disease.
- Shift the conversation from “being obese” towards health.
President, Nutrition Solutions and Co-Founder, Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists
- “Eating better” means cooking, eating together and enjoying food.
- Consumers are bombarded with food/nutrition messages that simply don’t “have the scientific muster to present as fact” (quoting Dr. Oz here!)
- Health and nutrition communications needs to be creative to capture consumers’ attention.
- From celebrities and chefs to dietitians and politicians, everyone has a role in being a champion for change.