Last week I was reminded there are too many unqualified people only too happy to give nutrition advice.
A client was sharing her diet records for the past few months so I could evaluate her intake for food patterns, vitamins, minerals and the other issues a licensed professional looks at. (I received the client’s permission to write about this).
On one day she had eaten brownies. After her notation, the words ‘Bad Girl’ were written in parentheses.
I told her that what one eats does not impose a value on who they are. She told me her trainer had written those words. My head exploded. Losing my counseling cool, I said: “Fire him.”
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Regaining my composure, I discussed the negative consequences of this type of conversation.
A study published last December in Obesity examined the impact of perceived weight discrimination on weight gain. The data was from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging and consisted of adults over 50 years of age. Almost all subjects were overweight/obese.
Over the course of four years, the researchers found that people who experienced weight discrimination gained, on average, 2 pounds and those who did not, lost 3.5 pounds. Too many people wrongly justify telling someone they need to lose weight because it is “better for their health.” Unintended consequence, in addition to hurt feelings, could be weight gain.
Another fascinating study from Obesity found an association between weight discrimination and C Reactive Protein (CRP), which is a marker of body inflammation. For people with a BMI between 25 and 30, weight discrimination was associated with greater inflammation. Interestingly, this association was not found for people with a BMI over 30.
So the lesson here is do not remind, nag, or demean a person because of weight. In addition to hurt feelings, there could also be negative physical consequences. Being supportive, whether it is bringing a delicious vegetable dish to the table or planning an outdoor activity.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.