Has the Body Positivity Movement Gone Too Far?

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The body positivity movement is gaining traction and while there is a lot of good, The Doctors debate, is there a negative side as well? To discuss two different perspectives on it, The Doctors are joined on Skype by registered dietician Marci Evans and in the audience by nutrition specialist Dr. Melina Jampolis. 

Marci says body positivity doesn't promote obesity. She feels helping those with larger body sizes to feel less shame, and more respect and kindness will lead them to engage in more health-promoting behaviors. She says there has been research that shows this. Marci also says, in regards to obesity, there is trouble in assuming someone who has a higher weight has a sick body.

Dr. Jampolis agrees that no one should feel bad about themselves but obesity is a real issue. The Americal Medical Association recognizes obesity as a disease and it is linked to over 30 other diseases like heart disease, high cholesterol and fatty liver, to name a few. 

Watch: Is Being Overweight Contagious?

Marci takes a different stance on obesity saying there are higher correlations, but they are not directly linked allowing you to say that x causes y. She believes when people can accept body positivity they are going to have healthier bodies. 

"We're all saying you should love yourself, no matter what size, the question is, when you are not an ideal BMI what should you do as far as health?" explains OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry. She points out that Marci believes conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes are not because the person is a larger size but because of the stress on them.

Marci explains the umbrella term, "allostatic load."  She says underneath this umbrella are multiple factors that measure a person's health like cardiovascular health, blood sugar health and hormone health. "Research shows when a person experiences weight discrimination those allostatic load factors doubled." Marci isn't saying to not pay attention to someone's body size, but to have less of a singular focus. She recommends considering things from multiple angles including the cost of pathologizing and medicalizing people's bodies.

"You're not making sense from a medical standpoint," Dr. Jampolis retorts. The Obesity Society (the main body that focuses on the treatment of obesity respecting it as a disease) is very against stigma, but it's important for doctors and the individual person to find the right weight for themselves. She also disagrees that being overweight is one of the main drivers; she believes being sedentary is a bigger driver. "Move more, eat better," Dr. Jampolis puts simply. She says Marci and her are on the same page in that weight shouldn't be a stigma, but body positivity and too much acceptance has changed the cultural norm. "Seventy percent of parents with overweight kids don't think their kids are overweight. That's a problem," Dr. Jampolis says.

Watch: How to Avoid Giving Your Kids Excess Sugar

Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon acknowledges the stress factor is a huge part of this problem. Chiropractor Dr. Bryan Abasolo points out you can be both overweight and fit, like NFL players, or the opposite, skinny but unhealthy.

"We do have to continue to remind these women that they are beautiful along the way on their journey... that's where the confusion came in. We said body positivity, love yourself. but somewhere along the way, people took that as love yourself, don't try to become a healthier version of yourself, that's not what we were saying!" concludes OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry.

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