11/19/19

Diversity and Inclusion in Health and Wellness Communications: What about Weight?

When we think about the importance of diversity and inclusion in communication today, we typically consider factors like race, ethnicity, age and gender. Yet one puzzle piece often remains glaringly absent from this picture: diversity in body size. Marketing and promotion materials in general tend to overlook people in higher-weight bodies, but the omission may be most striking when it come to the language and images we use to convey health messages.

Whether you work in the food, fitness or healthcare industry, it’s wise to consider breaking away from the outdated, yet still pervasive, skinny-equals-healthy mentality. Indeed, the nutrition landscape is already starting to change. Though it remains a new and contested concept, the Health at Every Size movement is gaining momentum among credentialed influencers, and word from FNCE 2019 is dietitians are increasingly talking about wellness over weight.

Not only does a myopic focus on thinness fly in the face of emerging research – data show, for example, that typical dieting thoughts and behaviors can paradoxically lead to weight gain[1][2]– it also implicitly excludes the roughly 70% of Americans living in larger bodies, reinforcing the message that healthy spaces, services and products are reserved for a privileged few and ostracizing would-be clients and consumers.

To ensure a more modern and inclusive approach to wellness communications, consider the following strategies:

Diet culture is slowly but surely dying, and a new era of woke wellness has begun. Are you helping lead the way?

 

[1] Fothergill et al., 2016

 

[2] Stice, Burger, & Yokum, 2013

 

Jean Owen Curran, MS, RD is an account supervisor at FoodMinds, based in our Chicago office