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 to rethink our messages about food and obesity. The event featured key leaders in obesity research/treatment and health communications: Dr. Ayra Sharma, Ted Kyle and me! Here’s what the 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.
Ted Kyle – Founder, ConscienHealth
• 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.
Sue Mah – President, Nutrition Solutions
• “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.