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Guest Post: What I Learned at "Eat Less, Eat Better ..is it that simple?"

Guest Post: What I Learned at "Eat Less, Eat Better ..is it that simple?"
This guest post was written by Heather Thomas, RD, PhD, Public Health Dietitian at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. Thank you for your submission!

Recently, I had the pleasure and opportunity to attend the NRC conference "Eat Less, Eat Better ..is it that simple?" and boy did I learn a lot...in a sentence, this conference inspired as many questions as answers and to me, that is a good thing and the benchmark of a successful engaging professional development opportunity. 
 
As a public health dietitian, I often use that lens when learning at a conference. This time, I found it interesting to reflect on the health equity lens when considering messaging about healthy eating and obesity prevention, the overarching topic of this conference. Obesity is as complex an issue as it ever has been and it can become more complicated when the "wrong" way to message about it is implemented.
 
Here are some things for consideration when it comes to obesity messaging in a public health context:
  • Our current frame(s) on obesity may actually be more harmful to health. We need to reframe our approach.
  • There are many factors outside the control of individuals that impact their weight.
  • Unintended consequences need to be mitigated with a balanced approach philosophy of health.
  • We need to consider targeted strategies for priority populations within a universal approach such that we have an individual focus within a socio-environmental context.
  • Finally, the core concept with respect to obesity messaging is respect. People are more amenable to improving their lifestyle when the focus is on health, not weight.
I will be reflecting on my own learning with respect to my approach to obesity prevention. My language, practice, and lens with which I see this issue has definitely changed.

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