What is HAES?
HAES® stands for “Health At Every Size”. It is an approach to promoting health that first and foremost rests on the premise that everyone deserves respect. That is the case whether we are thin, unwell, fat, healthy, fit, drink pop, eat burgers or wheat grass – whatever.
A HAES® approach recognizes that the single most effective way we can work to improve population health is to build a fairer world. Also, there’s more to health than diet and exercise: that size stigma, racism, poverty and so on are health hazards.
Many people first come across HAES® as an alternative to dieting. And what an alternative! Rather than pursuing weight change, HAES® advocates help people focus on health-gain and body respect. There are huge benefits for quality of life, sense of wellbeing and physiological outcomes that come from making peace with your body, not least having a healthy relationship with food and enjoying being active.
HAES® isn’t suggesting that everyone of every size is always healthy – a popular misconception. Instead, it focuses on helping anyone interested in feeling as well as they can be in the body they have right now. Hand in hand with this it challenges size stigma to advance equality.
Weight change may or not occur when someone shifts to a HAES® approach, who knows? HAES® advocates aren’t anti- weight loss as such, we’re anti- the pursuit of weight loss. This is because health improvements can occur independently of weight change, and the weight-centred intervention is an unscientific and harmful endeavour that increases size stigma.