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9 Reasons Why You Should Never Comment on Someone’s Weight, By a Registered Dietitian

Updated: Feb 9

In a world focused on appearance, it's crucial to recognize the impact our words can have on others. Weight-related comments, though often well-intended, can promote harmful stereotypes and negatively affect individuals' mental health.

Let's explore the reasons why it's time to shift our focus away from body weight and embrace a more inclusive and empowering narrative.

1) You could be complimenting an eating disorder

Just because someone looks like they have the "ideal body weight", doesn't mean they aren't struggling with an eating disorder. Eating disorders such as anorexia, binge eating disorder and bulimia can manifest across various body types, emphasizing the need to be mindful of the complexities of one's relationship with food.

2) It can be triggering for people 

While compliments may be well intended; many people struggle with body image issues, and comments about weight can reinforce negative perceptions they may have about their own bodies. Society often promotes unrealistic beauty standards, and comments about weight can contribute to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. These negative feelings about body weight can lead to negative thinking patterns impacting mental health and consequently drive unhelpful eating behaviours such as comfort eating/binge eating.

3) Weight gain is multi-factorial 

Weight gain is a multifactorial process influenced by a combination of factors. It's not just about what we eat and how active we are. Genetic factors, psychological factors (mental health, trauma etc.), biological factors (metabolism, menopause), mobility limitations, chronic conditions, medications, sleep, and hormonal changes all can impact our relationship with food and body weight.

4) It promotes weight stigma and fat phobia 

Just because someone's a certain body size doesn't mean we can can make an assumption around their eating habits and lifestyle. Labelling individuals as "lazy" or "disciplined" based on their appearance leads to weight stigma. Understanding that weight gain is a multifactorial process is crucial. Genetic, psychological, biological, and lifestyle factors all play a role. Shifting the focus from oversimplified assumptions to a more nuanced understanding helps break down stereotypes.

5) Losing weight doesn't always mean health 

Losing weight can happen for different reasons, like dealing with illness or stress. What really matters is adopting habits that improve our well-being—like focusing on nutrition and movement in order to feel more energized, confident, improve sleep etc. Let's shift the talk to things that truly count, like overall health, self-care, and well-being, rather than getting hung up on the digits on a scale.

6) It may harm a person's self-perception 

Your words are powerful. I had a client that returned to binge eating behaviours just because a stranger made a comment about her body weight. Be mindful of the impact your comments may have on someone's self-esteem and mental health. As negative comments about someone's body weight can lead to guilt and shame which can drive comfort eating and binge eating. Choose words that uplift and empower, fostering positive self-perception.

7) It gives into society's beauty standards 

The bodies we see on social media can be seriously out of touch with reality—some are even dangerously underweight. Let's ditch the unrealistic beauty standards and start celebrating the incredible diversity and uniqueness of real bodies. Beauty is about embracing the richness of human variation, not conforming to some one-size-fits-all mold. Time to redefine beauty on our own terms!

8) It perpetuates diet culture 

Challenge the prevailing narrative of restrictive diets and quick fixes. Shift the focus towards sustainable lifestyle changes that nurture both the mind and body.

9) It shifts away the focus from what's actually important 

If you think about a person you care about (friend/family member/partner) is it really their body type that is the first thing that pops into your mind? What about their personality, attitue and humor? Acknowledge achievements, character, and inner strength as true markers of a person's worth. Let's collectively redirect our attention to what truly matters.

👇🏻 Your voice matters! Join the conversation below and share additional reasons why we should steer clear of weight-related comments. Together, let's build a community that uplifts, empowers, and embraces the beauty of every individual.

Joanna Tsintaris, is the Founder of Nourish Dietitian —an online health and nutrition consultancy offering personalized 1:1 dietetic advice and scientific writing services. She is a HCPC registered Dietitian and Biomedical Science graduate with first class MSc in Nutrition and Dietetics. Specializing in weight loss and Type 2 Diabetes, Joanna empowers clients to make sustainable lifestyle changes, addressing conditions like pre-diabetes, PCOS, and more. With a holistic approach, she fosters a healthier relationship with food, challenges weight stigma, and rejects diet culture. Her clinical expertise, coupled with a commitment to evidence-based practice, ensures clients receive compassionate and person-centered care. Beyond her professional pursuits, Joanna, embodies the principles of holistic well-being in her own life, whether practising yoga, enjoying brunch, or savouring moments with coffee in hand.

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