Health At Every Size® is a social justice and weight-inclusive approach to health. Contrary to popular misconception, it does mean healthy at every size. It does not say that everyone, no matter their size, is “healthy.”
HAES® stands for the right to pursue health in personally meaningful ways, no matter one’s size.
The Association for Size Diversity and Health originally developed the HAES® principles in 2003 and revised them in 2013 to be more inclusive, intersectional and clear on its stance on other forms of discrimination.
ASDAH says, “The Health at Every Size® Principles promote safe and equitable access to healthcare for people regardless of size, health status, and health goals first and foremost.”
There are currently five principles which guide the Health At Every Size® approach, though they are under review and likely to be updated soon. The following is taken directly from the ASDAH website:
1. Weight Inclusivity
Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
2. Health Enhancement
Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
3. Respectful Care
Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.
4. Eating for Well-being
Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.
5. Life-Enhancing Movement
Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.
This approach is all about ending weight stigma so that people of all sizes, especially fat folks, can move about their lives without discrimination and access the health care and behaviors they want and need.
In case you weren’t aware, weight stigma puts fat folks at increased physical and mental health risk. Researchers have found that weight stigma is associated with disordered eating, anxiety, depression, increased risk for diabetes, increased inflammatory markers and more. In fact, many of the health issues commonly attributed to larger body size aren’t due to fatness at all but due to the deleterious health impact of weight stigma.
If any of this is confusing to you, I highly recommend checking out the plethora of resources ASDAH offers. Consider working with a HAES® professional to learn how to personally apply these principles.
In alignment with our consistent anti-oppression values, our work is grounded in these principles. We specialize in anti-diet nutrition counseling and eating disorder recovery.