3 Tips to help overcome body weight bias

Did you know that body weight bias and discrimination are real and rampant? A recent study looking at news stories in media found that 72% of images and 77% of videos stigmatized  people with obesity[1].  With so much body weight bias in our society, what can we do to help?  As dietitians we reviewed the science and bring you these 3 tips to help stop the body weight bias, with hopes that we can all make lasting positive change in response to weight shaming, stigma and discrimination. 

N4nn weight bias 2017 2017-11-26_20-25-57

  1. BECOME AWARE – Do you have a weight bias? A first step in addressing weight stigma is to become aware of our own potential attitudes and assumptions about body weight. What do you think and say about people with obesity? Did you know being called “fat” is the most common reason children are bullied?[2] A Harvard University survey reveals many people have an automatic preference for ‘thin people’ relative to ‘fat people’.[3] This survey is based on an Implicit-Association Test (IAT) that anyone can take, and measures the implicit attitudes and beliefs that people are either unwilling or unable to report. The WEIGHT-IAT asks you to distinguish images of people who are described as ‘obese’ or ‘fat’ and people who are ‘thin’. Try the IAT here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html – and select the Weight IAT to discover whether you have a hidden weight bias.
  1. SPEAK WITH COMPASSION – Use words that hurt less. At a recent nutrition symposium, we learned about research that shows the choice of words we use can have different impacts on people with obesity. [4]

words we use obesity bias N4NN 2017 11-27_14-57-23

  • Body weight should not be a topic of social conversation. It’s a deeply personal subject for most people. Even as a health professional, ask permission to speak about body weight.
  • Use person first language rather than describe people by their disease. ex. Saying “a person with obesity” is person first langauge. Saying “an obese person” is not person first language. It’s the same way you would say a person “has a broken leg” rather than say they “are a broken leg.”
  1. SHOW RESPECT – Every body deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Are YOU ready to help STOP the weight bias? Here are some tips:
  • Notice weight shaming and speak up when you hear inappropriate comments or jokes. Talk about someone’s performance, enthusiasm or other positive attributes rather than talking about their weight. If you notice someone blaming a person for their weight, remind yourself and others “We don’t know their story, so don’t blame them for their size.”
  • Shift the focus from weight to health and well-being.
  • Adjust your attitude – if you change your thoughts, your feelings and actions will follow.[5]

The journey toward well-being starts with how we eat and dietitians have the knowledge, compassion and flexibility to help Canadians achieve their goals. If you have questions about food and health contact a Registered Dietitian for reliable, life-changing advice.

[1] Heuer C, Puhl R.  Obesity stigma in online news: A visual content analysis.   Journal of Health Communication.   2011

[2] Puhl, R. et.al Cross-national perspectives about weight-based bullying in youth: nature, extent and remedies. Pediatric Obesity, 2016

[3] Harvard University, Project Implicit Sourced Nov 2017 https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html

[4] Adapted from Puhl, Peterson, Luedicke 2013

[5] Michael Vallis, Canadian Obesity Network Presentation 2011

New Nutrition Labels are HERE! Are you ready to transition? We can help!

One year ago, Health Canada updated the Nutrition Facts table and ingredients list on packaged foods.  This important change is part of the strategy to help make healthy food choices the easy choice for all Canadians. Food makers have until 2021 to transition to the new labels and many of our clients are starting to make the shift. Plan ahead and connect with us to help unlock your food’s nutrition potential and support healthy living for all Canadians.

Here’s a quick at-a-glance comparison of the old versus the new Nutrition Facts table as well as Ingredients lists.

Contact us at:  lucia@weilernutrition.com  for more information about these label changes and to discuss how the proposed front-of-package labelling will impact your business.

The new Nutrition Facts table places a greater emphasis on calories, potassium, calcium and iron. For the first time ever, total sugars will have a % Daily Value (%DV) set at 100 grams:

nutrition-labels-old-vs-new-bigger


 

 

 

 

 

Different types of sugars will still be individually identified, and will now also be grouped together as “Sugars”:

ingreds-list-sugars

 

 

 

All food colours will now be listed by their name rather than collectively listed as “colours”:
ingreds-list-new

 

NEW Front of Pack Labelling Update – 3 tips on how you can prepare for the big changes ahead.

N4nn fop labelling nov 2017

Photo Source: Health Canada

  1. WHAT?
    Front-of-Package Nutrition Labelling update is out – read it here!

Health Canada just published the future of Front-of-Package (FOP) nutrition labelling based on proceedings from Sept. 18, 2017 Stakeholder Engagement Meeting. The document’s summary and subsequent social media comments from scientists and regulators signal big changes for food makers.  Although ‘no firm decisions were reached and re-designed symbols would be subjected to further consultations,…Health Canada concluded that a mandatory ‘high in’ front-of-package labelling system is the most appropriate to use’.  Front-of-Package examples included warning symbols implemented in other countries such as Chile and Ecuador. Are you ready for something like this?

N4NN 2017 fop graphic

  1. SO WHAT?
    Consider if your packaged foods may have to show warning labels on front-of-package.

The ‘high in’ Front-of-Package label approach may require a black and white warning label on pack in the future but consumers already have a tool to focus on the 3 nutrients of public health concern in the NEW nutrition facts table (NFT). Have you considered what the % Daily Value (% DV) for sugars, sodium and saturated fat tells about foods? The NFT footnote explains the % DV as this:  5% or less is a little, 15% or more is a lot. The new FOP will make sure that the negative attributes of food products are represented to help Canadians make informed food choices. Health Canada recognizes that there is a gap in labelling between packaged foods and those sold in in grocery or restaurants.  Future work with provincial and territorial counterparts will aim to find the best way to provide nutrition information in restaurants and other food service establishments.

  1. NOW WHAT?
    Speak to a Registered Dietitian with food labelling expertise to plan your strategies.

Health Canada says ‘discussion is very important in moving this forward and we need to get it right’. We agree and encourage you to connect with Registered Dietitians who are regulated professionals accountable to the public based on the highest standards of science and ethics.  Our influence runs deep and we look beyond the fads and gimmicks to deliver reliable advice that supports healthy living for all Canadians.

Contact us to help you meet the demands of rethinking food labelling and to guide your team in unlocking food’s nutrition potential.

 

Sodium Reduction in Foodservice & Restaurant biz-let your voice be heard!

Message about excessive salt consumption.

Photo Source: Best Health Magazine Canada.

Do you work in foodservice or restaurant business? Get ready to lower sodium in prepared foods to make the healthier choice the easier choice. Why? Research shows that food from foodservice establishments is often high in sodium. Excess sodium intake can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and chronic diseases such as heart or kidney disease.(1)

Health Canada wants to hear from you about your sodium reduction experiences to better understand what factors influence your use of sodium in foods. Please share your views and let your colleagues know about the call for information about sodium reduction in foodservice. You can participate by completing a brief  online questionnaire .

If you have questions about the sodium reduction in your menu or recipes let us know. We’ll work with you to help improve the nutrition profile of your foods.

(1) Health Canada, 2017

What’s the truth about Coconut Oil?

coconut oil N4NN newsletter

At our 10th annual N4NN course this year, participants asked many questions that you may be wondering about too. We’ve busted some myths that are worth sharing – for example, the facts about Coconut Oil!

A lot of information is out there about coconut oil, leaving consumers confused about the truth. Since coconut oil comes from coconuts, it could have a nutty flavour and appear as liquid or semi-solid at room temperature. You may wish to use it in your cooking for its flavour or texture, but remember it’s still 100% fat so use in moderation!

The scientific research does not hold up sufficient evidence to say that coconut oil has health benefits. For heart health, studies show canola and olive oils are better for you.  Enjoy a small amount of healthy oils – 30 to 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) – each day.

Do you have nutrition questions? Let us know and we’ll answer it in a future newsletter or in our social media postings. Follow us @NutritionTraining @SueMahRD  @LuciaWeilerRD