“weighty matters” part 2

If you missed part 1, you can read it here 🙂

To recap, we’ve talked about mixed messaging and BMI and will now cover the last 4 topics. I will write the full names of the speakers during the first topic we talk about today and then use their initials after. These are not direct quotes, but summaries of their comments. Now on to the…

Diet Industry

  • Did you know that in ten years (from 1987 to 1997) the sales in diet industry increased from $33 billion to $50 billion with a 98% failure rate? (Emme, model, activist and NEDA Ambassador)
  • With that gross amount of money, you also have to ask who’s in bed with that advertising? All advertising is not to “do well” for consumers, but to increase their bottom line. (Joe Nadglowski Jr., President & CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition)
  • There needs to be more involvement with the medical schools because the doctors rising with education lack the proper nutrition training to have the basis to talk about it. (Wendy Naugle, Deputy Health Editor in Glamour magazine)
  • Not only do doctors lack the training to talk about these issues, they lack the education is any weight-related issue so it’s hard to expect them to talk about it properly at all. We have to raise the standard of health and stop shaming people based on their size. (Ovidio Bermudez, Past President of NEDA and now representing AED, IAEDP and BEDA)
  • An overall agreement was that we have to watch the branding to kids! Labeling sticks, not just with food, but with habits.

Who’s to Demonize?

  • Overweight people are targeted everyday. People love to hate fat people and use them as a scapegoat to feel better about themselves. (Katy Dailey, Health & Lifestyles Editor at Newsweek.com)
  • We lost our personal responsibility to look after ourselves. We need better nutrition education and insurance coverage. Right now there’s a mentality that when it’s broken or a problem then I’ll fix it as opposed to preventing the problem in the first place. At the same time, healthy living isn’t sexy. It doesn’t sell. (Max Gomez, medical reporter for WCBS-TV)
  • But watch how much weight you give personal responsibility because it’s both the choices we make and the environment we live in (food industry, socio-economic issues, etc) that shape one’s health. (JD)
  • Did you know that 70% of your body size is genetic? Genes load the gun and environment pulls the trigger in both under-eating and overeating. But environment isn’t a mask, it’s a pathway and a social responsibility. (Donna Ryan, President of The Obesity Society)
  • The bridge is the family and the habits parents teach their children. (OB)
  • However, it’s hard to motivate the conference room to do the right thing in $$$ form. They have to balance responsibility with the bottom line so timing is important. Stopping absolute messaging and abiding by the saying of “do no harm” is the key because as much as we loved Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, the products didn’t sell. It was the most expensive PSA! (Jen Drexler, Partner of Just Ask a Woman)

How do we start talking about this issue?

  • Shaming is not the answer! (and after a brief discussion about Michelle Obama talking about her girl’s health) That should be addressed, but in a private matter. (OB)
  • We have to try to balance a private matter and knowledge for the greater good. (JN)
  • These issues are more similar than the general public knows, but what they don’t know is that it’s also mental. We need to provide the tools for early intervention before the split of people either under-eating or overeating to deal with emotions. (OB)


  • We need a thoughtful approach that targets the factor contributing to eating disorders and obesity and be supportive of those patients. (DR)
  • The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter who’s to blame. Let’s just end this! (JN)
  • We need to continue to monitor health risk from a broad perspective with a thoughtful and sensitive approach and collaborate between the facets of health instead of pointing fingers. (OB)
  • This is about real women. Take this conversation out of this room! Capture women’s language and try to make it more positive like talking about your “happy weight,” not your “goal weight” which seems impossible. (JD)
  • Be more compassionate with yourself! No more body bashing! (Emme)
  • We need to start using behaviors as health metrics, not just the number on the scale. We also need to talk deeper about weight and the factors while broadening our definition of health. (KD)
  • I want to see more campaigns like Dove. We have to approach the stigma from both sides and not judge ourselves too harshly. Be your own best friend. (WN)
  • Focus on health, not weight. Companies will try to sell you anything if they can so buy the messages with your dollars. (MG)

Wow! That was a lot of information, but I can’t tell you how valuable it was. This panel lasted for two hours and just had so much energy that it was agreed there was a lot more that could be said and there should be another one. I agree! Thank you Lynn!

If any of you have any specific questions regarding the panel or even any of the issues, please feel free to email me at sweetestthingdc [at] gmail [dot] com.

In the meantime, what issue is the most important or closest to you do you have a recommendation for change?


4 responses to ““weighty matters” part 2

  1. Great recap!

    Its amazing to me that 98% of diets fail! Why do people keep dieting?!

    I think people need to be kinder to themselves and others and seek help if they are struggling. Doctors need to be better educated about helping people with weight problems instead of offering diets that don’t work in the long term.

    • I agree. Unfortunately, everyone wants the quick fix, but it never sticks because it’s usually too extreme 😦

  2. I find your comments on obesity to be quite interesting and with Michelle Obama taking this on as her personal mission the time is right. The most important issue I believe is access to fresh produce, especially kids and that is something we are working on very hard at United Fresh. Through our work on the Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program, produce inclusion in WiC, and our campain for a Salad Bar in Every School we are just beginning to see the effects of change. We do afterall serve the healthiest product. I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss with you in more detail all that we are doing.

  3. Thanks for all this information. We definitely need to do something to educate people at an early age on how to eat well and take good care of our bodies. I always think about when I have kids I hope I can teach them how to appreciate food and their bodies. I wish I could have gone to this panel!

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