Posted by: Patricia Hysong | March 12, 2012

Health vs. Weight: How and Why

With so much in the news about people being overweight, needing to drop a few (or a lot) of pounds, and obesity on the rise, it can be discouraging for anyone, but especially for people with a disability.

Disabilities often affect aspects of an individual’s movement, and movement of some type is important for physical and emotional well-being. Regarding eating habits, some individuals can have altered nutritional needs as a result of physical changes or side effects of a medication relating to their disability.

Individuals with a disability can often feel self-conscious. The media and our appearance-focused culture can intensify these feelings. Self-consciousness about appearance and physical abilities can contribute to anyone—with or with a disability—having unhealthy eating habits and being physically inactive or less active than is healthy.

However, it is not our appearance that influences our health, but instead, how we live our life—our lifestyle habits. “Many people do unhealthy things to try to look like images portrayed in the media and other places in our society,” observes Mary Kay Wardlaw, director of UW CES’s Cent$ible Nutrition Program.

Well-being—which includes physical, mental, social, and spiritual health—involves much more than body size, shape, or weight. There are reasons from A to Z to help anyone, including people with a disability, to adopt a health-focused (rather than a weight-focused) approach to well-being.

In our next few posts, we will discuss the ABCs of health-focused well-being.

 This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

This information is adapted from Wyoming AgrAbility’s 2009 Newspaper Insert:” Focus on health instead of weight? Here’s why and how!” by Suzanne Pelican, MS, RD, food and nutrition specialist in the UW CES Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.


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