By the third week in January, most of those fine New Year’s diets are dumped. And that’s probably a good thing, says Francie M. Berg, MS, author, licensed nutritionist, and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, in announcing the start of Healthy Weight Week, January 16 to 22.Healthy Weight Week focuses on encouraging people to move on to improving their health and well being in lasting ways. Hospitals, health centers and schools across the country are joining to promote healthy lifestyles and total wellness in body, mind and spirit.
“We want to shift our national focus from a continual struggle with ineffective, short-term weight loss, to health and wellness, to acceptance, respect and an appreciation of diversity,” said Berg, who chairs the event. “Unfortunately, our national hysteria over weight has never been more intense than it is today. People are desperate to lose weight. This is doing great harm, especially to our children.”
Berg says diets don’t work. And the risks include eating disorders, nutrient deficiencies, increasing harassment of larger children, and even severe injuries. “What works is to move on to an active nondiet lifestyle that allows excess weight to come off naturally. This takes time, but it is the healthy and lasting way to lose weight.”
Research is showing that lasting weight loss necessitates changing your “set point,” the weight at which your body seems to naturally stay, but that diet is not effective in changing that set point. Being more active is the key.
Berg adds that we may also need a measure of acceptance. Not everyone will lose weight, but they will be healthier if they move ahead to a healthier lifestyle. She points out that healthy people come in a wide range of sizes and shapes.
Healthy Weight Week features two sets of awards. Winner of the annual Women’s Diversity award, for businesses that honor size diversity in women, is Dove soap by Unilever. The company has launched a Campaign for Real Beauty that challenges the current “narrow, stifling stereotype” for females, and promotes “a broader, healthier, more democratic view of beauty a view of beauty that all women can own and enjoy everyday.”
One recent Dove advertisement features a vivacious and laughing group of women of varied sizes, including fuller figures. Recruited off the street, the six “real” women appear in their underwear without airbrushing or retouching. A Dove study last fall in 10 countries, including the U.S., found that a majority of women hold views of beauty that prevent them from recognizing and enjoying beauty in themselves and others, and that this is impacting their well-being, happiness and self-esteem.
At the other end of the spectrum, the 16th annual Slim Chance Awards, presented Tuesday, Jan 18, on Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day, spotlight these “worst” diet products of the year:
– Worst Gimmick: Green Tea300 patches
– Most Outrageous: EstrinD
– Worst Product: CortiSlim
– Worst Claim: Carboburn (see news release below)
“What we need to do is stop hounding people about their weight, and help them live actively, eat well, and feel good about themselves and others,” says Berg. “Both smaller and larger people are a normal part of the human spectrum, and they can be healthy at their natural sizes,” Her new book “Underage & Overweight: America’s Childhood Obesity Crisis. What Every Family Needs to Know” includes a 7-point plan for raising healthy weight children, and provides guidelines for school prevention programs.
Berg’s organization, Healthy Weight Network, started the Slim Chance Awards 16 years ago and Healthy Weight Week four years later in efforts to promote overall health and well being