Healthy Weight Week Jan. 20-26, 2013

Award honors Israel for law redefining beauty

HETTINGER, ND, Jan. 20—Healthy Weight Week, which begins today, honors Israel with a Healthy Body Image award for its new law that redefines beauty in advertising and on the fashion runway. Other award winners are a 14-year-old girl who took on unrealistically thin images in a teenage fashion magazine and a long-time leader in combating weight stigma.

Promoters of the Israeli law that took effect Jan.1 charge that impossible standards promoted by designers and model agencies have led to an epidemic in eating disorders.

“Beautiful is not anorexic,” said Rachel Adato, who helped push through the new ruling. “This law shatters the anorexic ideal, serving as an example for the country's youth.”

During Healthy Weight Week, people are encouraged to improve health habits in lasting ways and normalize their lives by eating well without dieting, living actively and feeling good about themselves and others.

“More people today know the value of size acceptance. They've experienced the harmful effects of dieting, idealizing thin models and harassing large children and adults. They're ready to move on,” said Francie M. Berg, a licensed nutritionist and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, who has chaired Healthy Weight Week since 1992.

“The real weight epidemic in this country is about body dissatisfaction and the unhealthy methods employed to try to change our bodies into what is often completely unrealistic for an individual,” said Marsha Hudnall, MS, RD, who helped select the awards. “These awards recognize people who are leading the change to the benefit of us all.”  Hudnall is the owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run, a pioneering healthy weight center for women.

Berg and Hudnall agree that supporting somewhat larger sizes than the societal ideal makes sound scientific sense.

“Many people are surprised to learn that extensive research at the US Center for Health Statistics, CDC, led by senior statistician Kathleen Flegal and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005 and again Jan. 2, 2013, shows that overweight persons tend to live the longest. This includes people in a broad range from body mass index of 22 to 40. Most Americans are in this healthy weight range,” said Berg.

Winners of the Healthy Body Image awards for 2013:

Israel earns the Redefining Beauty award for the “Law for Limiting Weight in the Modeling Industry.” It requires models to present their employers with a doctor's current certificate showing they meet a minimum BMI—18.5 for adults. Underweight is separately defined for youth below age 18. Advertisements featuring digitally reduced images must be clearly marked in a prominent place as manipulated to make them appear thinner. Promoters of the law say eating disorders in Israel have risen, with globalization and the subsequent import of American goods and culture, to include some 3 percent of Israeli girls between the ages of 11 and 18.

The award for Promoting a Realistic Body Image goes to 14-year-old Julia Bluhm of Waterville, Maine, who launched a crusade against  airbrushed images in Seventeen magazine. She circulated a petition calling for the magazine to print one unaltered photo spread each month and led a demonstration at the corporate offices of Hearst, which owns the magazine. More than 80,000 signatures came in from around the world, causing the editor Jan Shoket to issue a new policy statement that the magazine “never has, never will” digitally alter the body or face shapes of its models. The entire staff signed an 8-point Body Peace Treaty, she said, promising not to alter natural shapes and include only images of “real girls and models who are healthy.” As a result, other young activists are taking on Teen Vogue in an online petition. However, the pledge does not include advertising, so it's unclear if the many pages filled with ads will be affected.

Psychologist Deb Burgard, PhD, Los Altos, Calif., is honored with the Weight Stigma Awareness award for her many years of  leadership in increasing awareness of weight stigma. The co-author of Great Shape: The First Fitness Guide for Large Women, published in 1988, Burgard speaks and writes frequently on the topic of weight stigma and the need for size-acceptance. Burgard co-chairs the Academy for Eating Disorders group on Health at Every Size, is active in both the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) and the Advisory Board for NAAFA, and created the website. For large persons, Burgard advises, “You have to strengthen your 'emotional immune system' to withstand the culture's nasty messages about femaleness and fatness and failure—and work to change the culture—and there is joy even in this.”

Healthy Weight Week also showcases the 24th annual Slim Chance Awards for the year's worst weight-loss products and promotions, which were announced in December. (For more information see )


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Rick Kausman Rick Kausman