Understanding how diet-culture impacts nutrition and healthcare

It is easy to say, "I understand how diet-culture impacts nutrition and healthcare." Yet, finding an objective way to measure your understanding is difficult. This void is why in 2018, a group of HAES professionals created the weight neutral self-assessment, WNSA.

The purpose of the self-assessment is to bring awareness of weight stigma and weight bias in healthcare. The self-assessment provides an opportunity to reflect more deeply on how diet-culture, nutrition, and health are connected. There is no 'right' or 'good' category, so it's typical to have a wide range of ideas.

How the weight neutral self-assessment, WNSA was created

The following professionals made the WNSA: Megrette Fletcher M.Ed., RD, CDCES, Kori Kostka, RD, Sumner Brooks, MPH, RDN, CEDRD, Christina Turner MNutr&Diet, B AppSc, APD, Meghan Cichy, RDN, CEDRD, CSP, CD, Lauren Newman RD, Fiona Sutherland, Halina Brooke, Whitney Hightower, MS, RDN, LD, Claire Hammond. Together these individuals helped craft the content, direction, and evaluation of the results. While the WNSA has not been scientifically validated, it has been taken by over 700 professionals.

WNSA is composed of 13 questions, which focused on thoughts regarding seven topics. These range from weight-centered to weight-liberated ideas. The assessment is not a binary view of health, and there isn't a right or wrong result. Instead, the goal is to direct the learner to appropriate resources to broaden their understanding of weight science.

Understanding the results of the self-assessment.

Through our analysis of the data, we can see that there are five ranges of scores.

  • A result of less than -6 indicates you likely have a weight-centered approach to health and nutrition.
  • A score of -5 to 7 indicates you likely have a weight-neutral approach to health and nutrition.
  • A score between 8-13 contains an overlap between weight-neutral or weight inclusive concepts. This result may be the result of you holding onto some weight-centered ideas, concepts, and training.
  • A score of 14 to 19 would indicate you are likely to have a more weight-inclusive approach to health and nutrition.
  • A score of 20 or more would indicate you likely have a weight-liberated approach to health and nutrition.

While it is tempting to think that one score is better than another, the purpose of the WNSA is to support professionals in expanding their understanding of weight science. The WN4DC Symposium, which promotes the spirit of Health At Every Size in diabetes care, offers resources and links to various programs to help all professionals.