Change is rarely easy, and while introducing the role of dietitian to Focus has resulted in some very positive health outcomes for our clients, I know that there has been confusion as well. I wanted to take a moment from the day to write about a topic that, I think, is very important to understand: the role that measuring a person’s weight plays in helping them meet their health goals.

Many of you will have seen me out in the field with my bright-red scales, and measuring weight is something I do for many Focus clients. Deciding whether to measure a person’s weight is something I take very seriously, and that decision is often one that is made in collaboration with the client and their other health providers. It is not appropriate to do in all cases. To help you better understand that the role weight has in nutrition therapy, I have made a list of some the reasons why to measure weight, and a list of reasons why not to.

The pros

  • Some people are motivated by weight changes
  • It is useful evidence of the effectiveness of a nutrition therapy program for reporting purposes
  • It is less abstract than other ways of measuring health- that is, a person can see the change in the numbers on the scale and understand that their lifestyle changes are having an impact
  • It is sometimes clinically necessary, such as when a person is at serious risk of immediate, negative health events due to being underweight

The cons

  • Some people can become obsessed with weight changes, and make poor nutrition decisions to achieve a lower weight
  • Focusing too much on weight can detract from the overarching goal of improving nutrition for health and wellbeing
  • Focusing too much on weight can damage a person’s self-image and it does not support the philosophy that bodies are beautiful no matter what they look like
  • It is sometimes just plain unnecessary, such as when the person’s goal is to develop cooking skills

It is so important to be mindful of all the different shapes and sizes that bodies come in, and appreciate them for the life they give us. This is especially true when working with clients who are living with disability. It is important to remember that achieving greater health and wellbeing is our primary purpose, regardless of what that means for a person’s weight.

I am anticipating that your next question might be, “what does greater health and wellbeing look like?”

To me, health and wellbeing is as much mental and emotional as it is physical. It means having a healthy relationship with food and eating, having the skills to choose and prepare a range of nutritious, delicious foods in appropriate amounts for your needs, and being able to listen to your body telling you if it is hungry or full. It means choosing the soft drink and the lollies less often and in moderation, but really enjoying them when you do. It means finding joy in physical activity in whatever way fits with your lifestyle, and it means loving yourself and the body that you have.

Body positivity is something I am very passionate about. I also hope you know that if you personally are struggling to feel positive about yourself, my door is always open for a chat.

Thanks team, keep up the outstanding work!