Obesity is high on the agenda of governments and health and welfare agencies worldwide. The placement of body weight at the centre of discourse about health is referred to as the weight-centred health paradigm (WCHP). Critical analysis of the WCHP has increased in recent years, resulting in arguments for a paradigm shift. Critique of the WCHP encompasses ideological, empirical and technical issues. The consequences of the WCHP have been identified as an adipophobicogenic environment (an environment that creates fat hatred and weight stigma), and diminished health, wellbeing and quality of life for people with weight concerns. Many critics argue that it is time for a change of paradigm. The Health at Every Size® (HAES)®1 approach offers a more salutogenic, compassionate, humane and evidence-based approach to weight concerns. HAES is a strengths-based, ethical approach to enhancing the holistic health and wellbeing of all people. It does not advocate that people are automatically healthy at every size, but that people at every size can be supported to adopt practices that will enhance their health and wellbeing, irrespective of whether these practices result in changes in body weight. The HAES approach aims to empower people to do what they can to improve their health, including developing their resilience and capacity to cope with the trauma of living in a weight centred and adipophobic society. Ultimately, the HAES approach aims to create hope for people to make peace with their bodies.
International Journal of Social Work and Human Services Practice / Vol. 2, No. 6, pp.272-282