Teaching the Health at Every Size® curriculum to dietetics students : a look at anti-fat attitudes
Rosalez, Amber Marie
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to determine if teaching about the Health At Every Size (HAES) paradigm, using the recently developed HAES curriculum, to dietetics students could decrease anti-fat attitudes, increase knowledge of HAES, improve attitudes and beliefs about HAES and increase self-efficacy for using HAES. Justification for this study includes ample scientific evidence that anti-fat attitudes are pervasive among health care professionals, including Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs). The aim of this research was to contribute to the literature on possible interventions for preparing dietetics students to work with people of all shapes and sizes without bias.A pretest/posttest study design was used to compare changes within a non-random experimental group (n = 31) and between groups using a non-random control (n = 33). Surveys were used to measure three constructs related to anti-fat attitudes: dislike, fear of fat, and willpower, as well as four constructs about HAES: knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and self-efficacy. The experimental group received the HAES curriculum as part of their dietetics coursework and the control received their dietetics coursework without the curriculum.Anti-fat attitudes, within the three constructs, were significantly decreased, in the experimental group, compared to the control (p = .005). Positive attitudes about HAES decreased after the intervention, however positive beliefs and self-efficacy improved though not significantly, and scores indicating knowledge about HAES improved significantly (p < .001), compared to the control group.These findings support the use of the HAES curriculum as a way to reduce anti-fat attitudes among dietetics students and increase their knowledge of a weight-neutral approach to health (HAES). The evidence indicates that dietetics students and RDNs are not adequately prepared to treat overweight and obese individuals due to high prevalence of anti-fat bias, which suggests a gap in dietetics education. The findings of this study provide support for using the HAES curriculum as a way to teach dietetics students about equal and effective treatment for people of all shapes and sizes, preparing them for ethical practice.