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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2014, Article ID 983495, 18 pages
Review Article

The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss

1Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
2Department of Psychology, Fordham University, Bronx, NY 10458, USA
3Psychology Private Practice, Los Altos, CA 94022, USA
4Directorate of Health, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
5Acoria—A Weigh Out Eating Disorder Treatment, Cincinnati, OH 45208, USA
6Department of Psychology, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NP, UK

Received 16 January 2014; Revised 31 May 2014; Accepted 25 June 2014; Published 23 July 2014

Academic Editor: Robyn Sysko

Copyright © 2014 Tracy L. Tylka et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Using an ethical lens, this review evaluates two methods of working within patient care and public health: the weight-normative approach (emphasis on weight and weight loss when defining health and well-being) and the weight-inclusive approach (emphasis on viewing health and well-being as multifaceted while directing efforts toward improving health access and reducing weight stigma). Data reveal that the weight-normative approach is not effective for most people because of high rates of weight regain and cycling from weight loss interventions, which are linked to adverse health and well-being. Its predominant focus on weight may also foster stigma in health care and society, and data show that weight stigma is also linked to adverse health and well-being. In contrast, data support a weight-inclusive approach, which is included in models such as Health at Every Size for improving physical (e.g., blood pressure), behavioral (e.g., binge eating), and psychological (e.g., depression) indices, as well as acceptability of public health messages. Therefore, the weight-inclusive approach upholds nonmaleficience and beneficience, whereas the weight-normative approach does not. We offer a theoretical framework that organizes the research included in this review and discuss how it can guide research efforts and help health professionals intervene with their patients and community.