Healthy Weight Week was created 23 years ago to help people understand that health really isn’t about a number – on the scale or otherwise – and to encourage people to stop dieting and pursue livable and sustainable healthy lifestyles through eating well, living actively and feeling good about themselves.
Your healthy weight is your natural weight, which is largely determined by your genetics. If you come from a family of larger or smaller people, you are likely to be larger or smaller. Achieving and maintaining your healthy weight is supported by healthful, enjoyable living that includes mindful, pleasurable eating and physical activity, effective stress management, adequate sleep and more. It is not a weight that is achieved through restricting what you eat or excessively exercising in order to lose weight.
Our cultural obsession with thinness is seriously affecting people’s mental health. Estimates suggest only five percent of American females naturally have the body type portrayed as the “ideal” in media and advertising. That means the only way for other folks to obtain this ideal is by drastically altering their bodies, which might explain why up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. Eating disorders are particularly common in younger people and women: 95 percent of those with an eating disorder are between the ages of 12 and 26, and nearly half of all girls living in the U.S. report being unhappy with their bodies. Meanwhile, more than 90 percent of female college students and 50 percent of teenage girls admit to being on diets and using unhealthy methods to control their weight.
The desperate desire to meet a near-unattainable beauty ideal is strongly linked to media influence . It’s clear that we need members of the media (and people everywhere) to become voices for healthier, more inclusive definitions of “health” and “beauty.” Healthy Weight Week is a small, necessary start. Here’s hoping it soon becomes a year-long event.