Transcending Weight Bias and Treating Eating Disorders using a Health at Every Size Model – Interview with Amelia Meacham
Did you know that Eating Disorders affect at least 9% of the population worldwide? About 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Eating disorders are also among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose. About 26% of people with eating disorders attempt suicide.
There are a variety of different ways of treating Eating Disorders. And today, joining me is Amelia Meacham, who is a Senior at The University of Puget Sound in Washington State. Amelia has a Psychology Major and a Religious Studies minor, she’ll be graduating this May with her Bachelor of Arts Degree, and she is also my current practicum student. (Practicum = where Amelia and I create opportunities for her to learn about Eating Disorders and treatment using discussion, session observations, and other creative ways she can learn about individuals who struggle with Eating Disorders).
And I have learned so much from Amelia! Today, Amelia will be sharing her thesis about how to treat eating disorders better using a “Health at Every Size” (HAES) model. She will also be my first podcast guest to illustrate what I hope to be a new, shorter format that I’ll use with future guests in my next season of Calming the Chaos.
Intro to Amelia – Tell us about yourself and about your studies
1. How did you get interested in treating eating disorders?
2. What is a Weight based model of treatment?
3. What is a HAES model of treatment? ASDAH has the trademark on HAES, so we’ll use this definition in part from the ASDAH website:
a. Definition: The Health At Every Size® Principles promote health equity, support ending weight discrimination, and improve access to quality healthcare regardless of size. More info at https://asdah.org/health-at-every-size-haes-approach/
4. So what is a “Weight Bias?”
5. What barriers to treatment happen when Doctors, Therapists and Dieticians have weight biases?
a. Lack of perceived need
b. Failure of clinicians to diagnose and refer appropriately
c. Lack of treatment resources
6. How does a HAES Approach to Eating Disorder Treatment help people transcend these barriers and move toward lasting recovery (vs. relapsing)?
a. Weight neutral, holistic care …vs. Weight-based care
b. Weight inclusive framework, including intuitive eating and self-compassion work
c. Intuitive Eating Information can be found at http://www.intuitiveeating.org/
d. A non-discriminative type of care that combats the weight-centered approach. The weight-centered approach utilizes the biased BMI measure and discriminates against those in bigger bodies, often intersecting with race, disability, and gender. HAES works to combat this discriminative care.
Takeaway: Individuals and organizations that align with the HAES movement advocate against weight bias and discrimination in healthcare. This means that not only is HAES is helping individuals with eating disorders, but it is also combating the issues that influence the development of eating disorders.
ASDAH = Association for Size Diversity and Health at www.asdah.org
NEDA = National Eating Disorders Association at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
FEAST = Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders at www.feast-ed.org
ANAD = National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders at www.anad.org
IAEDP = International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals at www.iaedp.com