Facebook, Reddit, and basicly the rest of the internet exploded with the new viral movement HAES. This movement mainly claims, that being fat is healthy; alleging that they have "evidence" catching these claims in the picture:

enter image description here

Source: lindabacon.org

This has became a major thing recently to justify being overweight. Is this justification valid?

  • Related: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/7008/…
    – Henry
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 15:07
  • 1
    We have several different claims here. At least one is a duplicate, as @Henry shows. Can you please select one for us to investigate?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 17:27
  • Related: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/20700/…
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 17:28
  • @Oddthinking there have been alot of edits to my original question, but i guess my primary question is something along the lines of, can you be healthy at every size, aka if your obese are you healthy. thats the primary claim of this book, is that your healthy at every size, these other claims are subclaims to the major claim aka the factors to determine health.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 18:04
  • One of the definitions of too broad is that you could write a book on the answer. So we need to restrict it down to a claim we could answer. Two (arguably three) of the main claims in the image provided have already been addressed in duplicate questions.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 14:34

1 Answer 1


Interesting claim(s) indeed coming from PhD graduate Linda Bacon. Here they are:

Claim 1: On average "overweight" people live longer than "normal" weight people.

True or false? False.

“Being overweight can extend life rather than shorten it,” spiked the headlines of The Independent on the 2nd of January 2013. A study was published in the peer-reviewed The Journal of the American Medical Association and concluded:

Grade 1 obesity overall was not associated with higher mortality, and overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.

National Health Service the healthcare system for England found that the study was "limited" and said:

The bottom line is that being obese (all categories combined) increased the chance of dying compared to those with a normal BMI. This was not the case for overweight individuals or the lowest category of obesity (grade 1) on its own.

It is important to consider that individual risk factors for developing disease and death will vary person to person and BMI is only one of many measures used to assess the risk of developing disease in the future.

Even if you choose to ignore the limitations of this research, it would be unwise to interpret its findings as proof that being overweight is ‘healthy’rather it may be slightly less unhealthy than perceived.

Long story made short, being overweight isn't necessarily an unhealthy thing. However, the Phd graduate didn't make a distinction between correlation and causality.

Correction of the claim: "Overweight" people might live longer than "normal" weight people.

Claim 2: No study has ever shown that weight loss prolongs life.

True or False? False.

According to rbmc.org:

A new study recently reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that weight loss surgery appears to prolong life for severely obese adults. Among 2,500 obese adults who underwent bariatric surgery, the death rate was about 14 percent after 10 years compared with almost 24 percent for obese patients who didn’t have weight-loss surgery, researchers found.

Additionally, Weight-loss surgery appeared to prolong life for severely obese adults, a new study of U.S. veterans found here. .

Correction of the claim: Some studies suggest that weight loss (resulting from surgeries) might prolong life.

Claim 3: Biology dictates that most people regain the weight they lose, even if they continue their diet and exercise programs.

True or false? True.

Source: Approximately 10-20% of subjects are able to maintain a weight loss of at least 5% after 5 years

Another research: The results of other research also look grim; five years after completing structured weight loss programs, people only maintain a 3% weight loss.

In-depth article I recommend.

Claim: Eat what you want, when you want choosing pleasurable foods that make you feel good.

Implying that fast (or comfort) food is okay after alleging the following claims isn't made of good faith. Whether it makes you fat or not, fast (sugary or comfort) food is still as unhealthy as ever. Skeptics are well aware of temporal trends in fast-food restaurants, sodium, saturated fats, and trans fat content. If you eat what you want, you might risk yourself to type 2 diabetes and other endless diseases. It's important to realize that a large number of diseases are directly attributable to obesity.

People get quite literally being deceived into destroying their health potential by junk food companies seeking revenue or people selling books advocating in eating whatever you want and choosing pleasurable foods that make you feel good.

This answer has been tweeted to Dr. Bacon.

  • 1
    great answer, anytype of summery or overall answer as to is being overweight can be healthy? or can you be healthy at every size( their catch phrase)?
    – Himarm
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 14:56
  • 8
    There is a large difference between overweight (in the claim in the question) and obese (in the refutation), even before you get into the question of whether BMI (mass divided by square of height) is biophysically the correct measure.
    – Henry
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 15:05
  • 2
    @MarchHo haescommunity.org as well as her twitter, shes actively promoting "plus" size models, who are all obese, and my initial claim wasnt even about this book specifically, but about the HAES movement, which is predominately run by obese people.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 16:35
  • 3
    Yep, -1 for citing Dr. Mercola, he's the antithesis of authoritative (doesn't mean he's wrong, just that it's a poor reference). Also, maybe you want to distinguish between averages and individual cases. While, for example, it's true that ideal weight correlates with better health, there is no guarantee that a 5kg overweight person will have a benefit from losing those 5kg, Even the determination of "ideal weight" has large statistical deviation.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 21:20
  • 2
    @georgechalhoub thanks! we even have a tag dedicated to his pseudoscientific claims: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/joseph-mercola
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 13:13

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