ABSTRACT

This paper examines the current weight-centric approach to the promotion and practice of physical activity for health and proposes, as an alternative, an approach that draws on some of the principles of Health at Every Size (HAES). As scholars who have been involved with a growing community who are critical of the overbearing emphasis on obesity and overweight within health policy and practice, we approach this paper with a clear motivation. We are concerned about the tendency in some quarters towards the deconstruction of dominant obesity discourse without offering some deliberations on how we might move the field of physical activity forward. We do not embrace HAES in its entirety and acknowledge that there are difficulties with some of the claims it has made (Gard 2013). We align ourselves with a growing community of support in a range of academic, scientific and lay circles advocating a need to engage with more politically active frameworks that challenge moralised obligations towards physical activity as a

means of achieving weight loss. In this paper, we thus commit to developing critically and politically informed perspectives for advancing knowledge about physical activity, fat and health. We argue that examining the assumptions and belief systems that drive the social, political and economic agendas for physical activity may further an understanding of why and how physical activity policies work in improving health, and why they might not. Adding to the funds of knowledge about physical activity for health in this way may provide a more adequate, ethical and respectful platform for the construction of physical activity policy, prescription and practice.