Working towards size inclusivity for the health of the whole community
Better Health Network (BHN) is calling for health and wellbeing environments to adopt more size-inclusive practices to ensure everyone can access kind, supportive and equitable health care – rather than a non-inclusive approach that results in people actually disengaging from healthcare, nutritious eating and movement altogether.
Recent feedback from a BHN project confirms that people regularly experience shame and weight stigma and exclusion when public settings and health initiatives are not size inclusive.
“By shifting our focus from weight-centric approaches to a more comprehensive and inclusive model, we can better serve the needs of our community and work towards reducing health inequities,” said Jenny Jackson, Executive Director of Client Services at Better Health Network.
BHN recently launched Towards Size-Inclusive Health Promotion, a resource developed to raise awareness and provide recommendations for size inclusive initiatives related to food and movement.
To develop this resource, the BHN Health Promotion team talked to people in larger bodies with our lived experience consultant Lisa Brassington, health promotion professionals across Victoria, and consulted with experts in the field, including Dr Fiona Willer (Director of Health, not Diets) and Dr Zali Yager (co-CEO of The Embrace Collective).
The Towards Size-Inclusive Health Promotion resource also raises awareness of the unintentional impacts that ‘healthy eating’ and ‘active living’ initiatives can have in the community.
Community examples of unintended harm included:
‘Healthy eating’ initiative unintentional impacts
- Children developing fears about certain foods due to them being branded as ‘good’ or ‘bad’
- Pressure to eat a certain way to be ‘healthy’
- Making assumptions about a person’s health or eating behaviours based on their body size
‘People also face barriers to participating in ‘active living’ initiatives such as;
- Gyms and outdoor spaces not being accessible for people in large bodies ie. bathrooms, changing rooms and seating options.
- Gyms and sports settings having a focus on ‘weight loss’ as the motivation for movement led to many people in larger bodies feeling alienated from these environments
- People in larger bodies being excluded from participating in sports due to limited sizes in sports gear.
“As healthcare providers, health promoters and community leaders, our role is to promote health and wellbeing while reducing barriers for access,” said Jackson.
“Better Health Network believes people of all shapes, sizes, genders, ages, sexualities, races, abilities and identities, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and is committed to providing better healthcare opportunities for all.”
For more information on BHN Health Promotion and to view the Towards Size-Inclusive Health Promotion resource, please visit: