In doing research for my last post, I happened to come across an article written by Joanne Ikeda and her colleagues (1), critiquing the National Weight Control Registry program. Ikeda is a member of the board of directors of the Association for Size Diversity and Health, which promotes the Health at Every Size program. Their paper recycles the claim (twice) that 95% of persons who lose weight regain it (without providing any references), and basically makes the argument that since weight loss efforts are generally futile, HAES should be promoted instead of weight loss.
This is an argument that has been picked up by many in the Fat Acceptance movement, and I can understand their motivation. After all, if you say that significant permanent weight loss is impossible, then obese people are not "culpable" for their obesity, because it is utterly beyond their control. And if you say that it is possible, then you can rightfully accuse obese people of sloth and gluttony, right?
Obviously, I'm utilizing some hyperbole here, so you can probably tell that I personally don't agree with these viewpoints. I think the evidence strongly suggests that some people can lose weight permanently and others can't. It may even be the case that some people are able to lose weight at certain times in their lives and not at others. And it's impossible to make a judgement about any one individual's ability to lose weight.
So, I don't agree with the FA movement when they say that nobody should try to lose weight. And I don't agree with fat bashers who say that all obese people should try to lose weight. Having a "normal" BMI takes a different amount of effort for everyone, and people should be left to make their own decisions about how much energy to invest in regulating their body weight without being judged or criticized by others (except, obviously, in extreme cases involving eating disorders).
And I hope people will feel free to share their own views on the matter in the comments...
1. Ikeda J, Amy NK, Ernsberger P, Gaesser A, Berg FM, Clark CA, Parham ES, Peters P. The National Weight Control Registry: A Critique. Journal of nutrition education and behavior 37: 203-205, 2005.