The Low-Down on HAES (Health At Every Size)

Society is always telling us that skinny is beautiful, and even more than that, we are told that skinny is healthy. But, there is an emerging movement telling us otherwise, HAES (Health at Every Size) revolves around the idea that it is critical to support people of all sizes in finding ways to take care of themselves.

HAES is underpinned by beliefs surrounding respect, critical awareness and compassionate self-care. Namely, celebrating the uniqueness of the human body and developing ways to challenge assumptions and maintain health for all. Their belief is that these concepts are critical regardless of size, gender, culture and other diversities.

This is an increasingly controversial and popular topic for discussion with more brands bringing in ranges of plus size clothing and becoming more accommodating of all shapes and sizes. Some people however have expressed concern that this new open-mindedness and acceptance may be creating a sense of tolerance of unhealthy eating habits such as binge eating. These sceptics have also criticised that HAES is pushing aside the importance of obesity control and failing to address it as a rapidly growing issue.

What these people may not realise is the extreme complexity of the issue, including the difficulty of losing weight as well as the fact that some people may actually be incredibly healthy while at a heavier weight.

Despite disapproval from some parties, there is certainly a strong, positive message associated with HAES, as Linda Bacon writes in her book, ‘Health at Every Size: The surprising truth about your weight’, health and happiness are far more important that any number shown on a scale.

Eating for nourishment and wellbeing, moving or exercising for enjoyment rather than weight loss, celebrating physical diversity, and breaking down stigmas society currently has about weight and health are some of the key factors pertaining to the HAES movement. 

And this is, in a nutshell, is what HAES is trying to show us – regardless of body weight, everyone deserves to have their well-being and health optimised, and we here at Naturally Nutritious completely and wholeheartedly agree!


This article was written for Naturally Nutritious by Anika Sweet who is a current Nutrition Science student at Monash University with a passion for health and a love of all things food. She plans to continue studying a Masters of Dietetics after graduating from her bachelor degree and open her own dietetics practice. When Anika isn’t studying, her hobbies include spending time with friends, photography, blogging and she has also founded a successful social media management business.

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