Alternative Facts About Weight

news analysis published on The New York Times website on Jan. 25 discussed the Trump administration’s habit of asserting facts without producing evidence to back those claims.

In an effort to defend White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer after his disastrous statement to the press on Jan. 21, Kellyanne Conway used the Orwellian phrase “alternative facts” to defend Spicer’s false statements.

By now, it’s been established that “alternative facts” are a bunch of baloney. In the words of Chuck Todd, the host of Meet The Press, “Alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.”

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Because I am a fiery advocate for Health At Every Size® (HAES), I couldn’t help but associate the phrase “alternative facts” with the falsehoods spewed by magazines, health professionals, and public health officials about our weight.

For those of you who have read Dr. Linda Bacon’s books, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About your Weight and Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, or Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight, you understand that empirical research shows that the mainstream “facts” about our weight just don’t stand up to the evidence.

If a hoard of research shows that body size is not entirely in our control and that weight loss is the best predictor of future weight gain, then why do our doctors and media professionals still shove diet and exercise plans down our throats?

More importantly, why does high-quality science (AKA, the evidence upon which health facts should be based) so blatantly conflict with popular “facts” about weight?

Blame economics.

Because our country has a $65 billion weight loss industry that is vested in our beliefs that “thin is better,” misinformation about weight has spread like a contagious disease.

We are raised to believe that fat is bad and that permanent weight loss can be achieved through diet and exercise, but we rarely question what we are taught.

While it is true that nutritious food and joyful movement positively impact well-being, having a BMI between 18.5 – 24.9 is not a requirement for health or wellness.

You can be well above a BMI of 24.9 and still live a healthy, rewarding, valuable, and vibrant life. Anyone who tells you otherwise is telling you an “alternative fact.”

In her HAES Manifesto, Dr. Bacon delineates the common assumptions underlying the war against fat. With the addition of a new phrase in our vocabulary, however, I think these common assumptions should be renamed “alternative facts,” or even better, lies.

ALTERNATIVE FACT: “Overweight” and “obese” people die sooner than leaner people.

ALTERNATIVE FACT: Being “overweight” or “obese” puts people at sig- nificant health risk.

ALTERNATIVE FACT: Anyone who is determined can lose weight and keep it off.

ALTERNATIVE FACT: Weight loss will prolong life.

ALTERNATIVE FACT: The only way for “overweight” people to improve health is to lose weight.

Dr. Bacon uses sound science to debunk all of the above assumptions (and more) in her HAES Manifesto. If you are new to the concepts of HAES, I encourage you to read Dr. Bacon’s HAES Manifesto and share it with everyone you know. –> Click here, friends!


Enjoy this blog? ‘Like’ the Body Peace & Liberation page on Facebook. Body Peace & Liberation is a wonderful body positive page started by Kathleen Bishop, LCSW. The page is dedicated to promoting self-acceptance through Intuitive Eating and the Health at Every Size® movement. It’s a no diet/weight loss talk zone!


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