Is obesity an actual diagnosis or not? What should parents know about their children’s health? Why is body size not an accurate indicator of health? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about “treating obesity”; what you need to know about the shocking new guidelines with Chevese Turner.


As CEO of the Body Equity Alliance, Chevese leads their efforts to engage with corporate partners in advocacy and serves as advisor on public policy, education, marketing, and communications related to eating disorders, weight stigma and weight discrimination, and health equity. Chevese's work in the healthcare arena, education around moving past social determinants of health to health equity, and dedication to healthcare as a human right has prepared her to help clients make important shifts in their own work. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


  • Change is needed at a societal level
  • Treat the trauma
  • Bodily size is not an accurate indicator of health
  • Restriction is a tricky path

Change is needed at a societal level

A weight obsession is present in modern society, and in Western cultures especially. The desire to look a certain way pushes people to overexercise, undereat, develop eating disorders, damage their mental and emotional health, and can even encourage them to despise others in different bodies to theirs.
This is really dangerous and we need to work simultaneously on helping kids who are fat live lives free from bullying and that comes down to us [as the adults]. We have to change the way that our culture sees fatness and approaches it. (Chevese Turner)
For children, this can manifest as bullying and shaming without understanding the gravity and impact that their words can have on their peers.

Treat the trauma

Obesity is not an illness. It is not a diagnosis.
The treatment here is the chronic trauma of weight bias … that’s what we need to be treating. (Chevese Turner)
Big pharmaceutical companies make money on selling drugs and prescriptions, so it is easier – and a better business decision – for some doctors to diagnose someone and sell them medicines and procedures that will not actually relieve the root cause.

Bodily size is not an accurate indicator of health

You cannot tell whether someone is healthy or not based on their body size. Someone could be in a larger body and be fitter, healthier, and more capable, whereas somebody in a smaller body could be suffering from chronic illnesses.
I’ve had plenty of patients in [body] sizes and all BMI categories who had diabetes, who had hypertension, who had chronic illnesses, and weight loss or weight gain did not affect the outcome of whatever happened. (Dr. Castagnini)
Losing weight does not indicate health. Health indicates health. Weight loss is not a guarantee for healing an illness or as a sole preventative measure.

Restriction is a tricky path

[Restriction can] set somebody up for [developing] disordered eating or an eating disorder later on, and not having a relationship with food … [that’s] healthy and emotionally healthy. (Dr. Castagnini)
Be careful with advocating restriction, especially with children if you are parenting. It is possible to teach children to develop a healthier relationship with food through intuitive eating, but it has to be combined with teaching the child emotional regulation so that they can learn not to self-soothe entirely with food, an easy source of dopamine.



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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