Is HAES a Bunch of Hooey?

No one cares that Santa is overweight

Health at Every Size is not an organization, but a concept and a movement. There are, however, organizations that promote size tolerance, whether healthy or not. One is the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, for which Joanne Ikeda speaks:

There has been just study after study showing fat people are discriminated against in housing, employment, college admission, even in adoption. You can today fire a fat person for no other reason other than they are fat, and you don’t want a fat employee.

Many deep questions are concealed within those few words. When someone is in a position to hire another person, why shouldn’t they be allowed to have standards? Maybe parents don’t want to hire a smoker as their babysitter. Should they be forced to? Should the owner of an upscale shoe boutique be forced to hire an obese person to help customers try on shoes? What if a 600-pound shoe salesperson could not get back up from the floor, and the customer tried to help, but instead slipped onto the floor also, and the salesperson accidentally rolled over on the customer and caused serious injury?

Or maybe the customer would not try to help, but would just sit there and laugh. Either way, they would not be concentrating on the purchase of upscale shoes, and the business would be hurt. But what about civil rights? What about the need of obese people to not be stigmatized? What about their need to earn a living, just like normal-weight people?

HAES activists say that the “war on obesity” is really a war on obese people. And fat-shaming just plain doesn’t work. The reason, as explained by contributor Tyrian, is:

…when someone mocks a fat person, the fat person is likely to just retreat to food and make themselves fatter. If a fat person is trying to work out and they’re actually discouraged by people who are just at the gym for toning, then they’re just going to quit and go eat a cake.

At the same time, there are HAES traitors, like an online commentator called Michiganchic who wrote:

I hated everyday of being fat, and all the miserable things associated with it. I didn’t realize that until I became thin.

On the same page, a patient who did well with weight-loss surgery wrote:

I loved my body when I was fat but it didn’t love me back. Today I love my body with all my sags, bags and bat wings, and it loves me back by taking me everywhere I want to go without pain, and sickness!

A Reddit contributor called PrinceOWales tries to explain that when someone has been a certain way ever since he or she can remember, it is difficult to see a need for change. A doctor may warn that weight loss is urgent, but when the patient hears it, the stubborn side of human nature kicks in. The basic urge is to declare, “I won’t change who I am.” It’s an immature response no matter how much “acceptance” rhetoric it may be dressed up in.

In many lives, fat acceptance stems not from a delusion of immutability but from a genuine conviction that it is the only answer. Sometimes a person gets trapped in a bad situation and just can’t see any other way out. What if a man is married to a jealous woman, and every time he make an effort to become fit and toned, she thinks he is having an affair, or wants to? Sometimes, even kids have what seem (to them) like very good reasons to stay fat. In many cases, the problem for social agencies is to address this without an unacceptable degree of intrusion into family life.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Overweight Women Tend To Earn Smaller Paychecks, Study Claims,”, 10/22/14
Source: “Dismantling fat logic makes me an ‘ignorant prick’,” November 2014
Source: “Anyone want to be fat again?,”, 08/18/14
Image by Wesley Fryer

One Response

  1. The hatred towards fat people is worsened by the rude and delusional ones who accuse everyone of fat shaming even when health remarks aren’t directed against them. These Fat Acceptance and HAES movement members created for themselves a very insular existence and closed community. Any person voicing dissent – not out of hate but quoting professional opinions and articles – are quickly shouted down.

    Yes, fat people may be discriminated against when it comes to employment but it’s a business world we’re talking about here and no employer is obliged to bend over backwards just to avoid hurting oh-so-delicate feelings.

    I’m not fat-shaming. I have fat friends. But none of them are as arrogant and spiteful as the Fat Acceptance and HAES movement members. So take it however you want. I’m only stating what I observe. It’s not going to stop me from befriending nice fat people and disliking rude ones.

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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

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Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

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Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

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Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

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