The Conspirators

Who Knew? HAES Messaging Is a Conspiracy of Big Food!

If we didn’t know better, we might think Anahad O’Connor and the Washington Post are deliciously clever satirists. They have a new contribution to the catalog of conspiracy theories. In short, O’Connor explains that the reach of HAES (Health at Every Size) messaging comes from a Big Food conspiracy. This plot involves registered dietitians aiding and abetting the industry. He and his colleagues at the Post write:

The Post and The Examination analyzed more than 6,000 social media posts by 68 registered dietitians with at least 10,000 followers. The analysis showed that roughly 40 percent of these influencers, with a combined reach of over 9 million followers, repeatedly used anti-diet language.

“The rapid spread of anti-diet messaging – and the alliance between some of the country’s registered dietitians and the food industry – has alarmed some in the public health community.”

Their headline give us the editorial slant quite clearly: “As obesity rises, Big Food and dietitians push ‘anti-diet’ advice.”

Stirring Both Sides of the Controversy

But the Post does a nimble job of playing both sides of the controversy they’re stirring. For years, they have dispensed the anti-diet advice they now describe as a threat. They told us to “cancel diet culture.” We should “stop trying to lose weight.” Intuitive eating, said the Post, can help us “get off the diet roller-coaster” if we follow all of its principles carefully.

So, if there is a conspiracy to push an anti-diet agenda from the HAES movement, then we can find reasons to think the Washington Post has participated in it with Big Food.

Performative Outrage

Registered dietitian and author Abby Langer says this “performative outrage” by the Post is simply wrong. She takes particular exception to the suggestion dietitians are contributing to obesity at the behest of the food industry:

“Perhaps it’s important to not paint an entire profession with the same brush, and to understand all facets of a complex situation before you report on it.”

She’s right. This misleading and sensational reporting is no credit to the journalistic ethics of the Washington Post. Though we have some issues with HAES messaging, blaming it on a Big Food conspiracy with dietitians is absurd.

Click here for the report from the Post and here for Langer’s rebuttal.

The Conspirators, painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme / WikiArt

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April 5, 2024

One Response to “Who Knew? HAES Messaging Is a Conspiracy of Big Food!”

  1. April 05, 2024 at 12:48 pm, Mary-Jo said:

    Yes, it’s a big leap to propose that dietitians who discourage restrictive diets are really in cahoots with the food industry to peddle ad libitum intake of calorific, proprietary UPFs for both monetary, as well as weight gain. Dietitians who support HAES and intuitive eating, imo, actually are not advocating for poor health or nutritional intake, either, but these ideas CAN result in things going horribly wrong for people with a genetic (even epigenetic) predisposition to obesity, like me, where hormonal, biology, physiology makes intuitive eating a bust and/or lead to a size that actually is unhealthy.