“Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia” by Harriet Brown


There are good, bad and ugly books, each contributing their individual experience of the eating disorder which is anorexia nervosa.

I’m looking forward to reviewing many of these, and also to presenting your opinions of books which impact the weight debate.

(Have a book you’ve already reviewed? Why not give it another outing on this page – I’d love to hear from you, so do get in touch!)

As one size doesn’t fit all, then surely one book on anorexia doesn’t suit us all. To paraphrase Tolstoy, all happy families are alike, but every family’s experience of anorexia is different.

This is why we need all these books. Because we have so much to learn.Brave Girl Eating amazon

Brave Girl Eating, written in 2010 by Harriet Brown, author, and professor of magazine journalism at Syracuse University in New York state, has much to offer. Brown is also a science journalist whose work has featured in the New York Times Science section and other publications.

Some reviews and comments were rather divided, which I would expect given the strength of feeling when dealing with eating disorders and treatment options.

According to Amazon:

“In BRAVE GIRL EATING Harriet Brown describes how her family, with the support of an open-minded pediatrician and a therapist, helped her daughter recover from anorexia using a family-based treatment developed at the Maudsley Hospital in London. Chronicling her daughter Kitty’s illness from the earliest warning signs, through its terrifying progression, and on toward recovery, Brown takes us on one family’s journey into the world …continue reading “Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia” by Harriet Brown

Shame. Having fat friends makes you greedy.


The word Shame is mine, the ‘Having fat friends makes you greedy” was the Daily Express’s ‘catchy’ little headline.


“Sitting next to overweight people makes you more likely to gorge on unhealthy food.” – Daily Express.

A small scale study, published in the peer reviewed science journal Appetite looked at how a group of 82 college students were influenced by the presence of a fat-suited actress near them at the buffet (as in this photo from the film”Shallow Hal”.)

The results suggest that we eat more, and not necessarily more healthily, when we observe a fat person.

“Professor Mitsuru Shimizu of Southern Illinois University in the US said the findings showed the ‘larger your friends, the larger your appetite’ because the body type of a dining partner, or those nearby, influence choice.”


  1. There were only two food choices: salad or pasta – and when did pasta become ‘bad’ if you eat a bit more of it?
  2. Who is going to ‘gorge’ on salad?
  3. Was it raining? Cold? I know what I and most people would eat, especially in this English climate…..
  4. Only young college students participated in this study. Results could have been very different, again, with older adults, children and other cultures.
  5. Any vegetarians? They wouldn’t eat meat sauce…

In addition, the research team claim that more pasta was eaten by the study participants “because the health commitment goal was less activated”. In Plain English, we don’t care quite as much when we are with fat people, the implication …continue reading Shame. Having fat friends makes you greedy.

“Eating Disorders for Dummies”

Has anyone NOT heard of the “XXX for Dummies” series?

I love books.

It’s genetic – I’m at least a 4th generation bookie. Give me a good book and I assure you nothing else gets done.

So there I was in a favourite bookshop when I came across, under the Health section, a book which rather stunned me: ‘Addiction and Recovery for Dummies.’

Ok, if it helps…(and they have sold millions). But what made me uneasy was the thought that there might also be an “Eating Disorders for Dummies“.

Yes. There is.

Why, on principal, am I uneasy about this book? Before I’ve even read it?

Eating disorders are complicated. Very. There is so much misconception, misinformation and misguided advice that seeing the words ‘Eating Disorders’ in the same sentence as the word ‘dummies’ fundamentally concerns me.

Should it?

Have you read this book? What do you think?


Interview: 'Fattitude' has the right attitude!

Like me, many of you reading this will be well aware of the excitement and media storm surrounding the fundraising for the forthcoming feature length documentary, Fattitude, due for release in late 2015.

So I was excited to have the opportunity while visiting Florida to meet with Fattitude‘s producer, Lindsey Averill, a fat activist, women’s studies scholar and body positive coach together with the co-producer and director of Fattitude, filmmaker Viridiana (Viri) Lieberman.

Three hours have seldom gone so quickly. Our discussion ranged from the portrayal of fat people in the media, to the work being done by other fat activists and, of course, the how and when of the film.

I discovered that Lindsey and Viri became friends when they met through Lindsey’s husband, but what really bonded them was a their interest in women’s studies.

Viri’s research on sport and gender resulted in the recent publication of her book, Sports Heroines On Film. It isn’t a big leap to see how her friendship with Lindsey led to the creation of Fattitude.

When asked where the idea for a film highlighting weight bias and offering alternative views originated, they told me they felt it naturally arose from their mutual interest in these issues, combined with Lindsey searching for a suitable project. “Let’s make a film,” she said to Viri. Why not?

Like so many of the best ideas, their original concept is quite different to the film that is in production as I write this.

“Culturally,” said Lindsey, “we are on a roller coaster of body image as portrayed in the media, and the media always need a new way to …continue reading Interview: ‘Fattitude’ has the right attitude!

“Your Weight Matters” National Convention 2014

Boasting a logo that called on us to S.H.I.N.E., YWM2014 was hosted and developed by the Obesity Action Coalition, “a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping the millions of Americans impacted by excess weight and obesity through education, advocacy and support”.

Held over three days in September, this 3rd Annual National Convention was sponsored by an assortment of companies I hadn’t come across before, with an emphasis on bariatric and other interventions.

Delegates represented a wide range of views on weight related issues. Many commented positively on the weight management advice, health information and support from like-minded people (always so important) provided by the Convention.

Educational offerings in the form of talks, advocacy training sessions, interactive workshops and activities were comprehensive. I was particularly pleased to see weight stigma and patient advocacy highlighted.

Remember – there is a place for those who want to lose weight, a place for those who are happy to be fit at their chosen weight, as well as a place for those who say that it’s none of your business what they weigh.

YWM2014 fits into this spectrum quite comfortably.

I appreciated the two featured live speakers who were streamed, and was able to listen to an interesting talk on ‘Mindfulness’ despite the 5 hour time lag.

You can get a feel for the conference by reading tweeted comments using the hashtag #YWM2014. Contributors included : @ParentingSpot, @YWMOAC, @WLSCouncelor, @ObesityAction, @UKHealthyeating @Dr.JohnYadegar, @ASMBS, @Born2bFat, @drsharma, @conscienhealth, @YoniFreedhoff and yours truly, @weightdebate.

However, I do believe the organizers missed out by not featuring at least one ‘tweetchat’.

Yes, I know you could tweet as part of their Advocacy …continue reading “Your Weight Matters” National Convention 2014

Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014

They say ‘politics makes strange bedfellows’.

In September I was busy tweeting with ”Your Weight Matters” (YWM), the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) hosted National Convention held in Orlando, Florida as well as BEDA’s National Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014.(WSAW)

Busy, busy. You wait ages and then all the buses come at once!

On the surface there are obvious ideological differences between the two organisations which many of you reading this will be well aware of. However, my view is that there is room for all views.

One size doesn’t fit all, and one view on body size doesn’t fit all of us in this culture of thin.

So. This post focuses on the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) sponsored Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014: Tools That Build Conversations: Initiating the Weight Stigma Talk.

Between 22 -26 September BEDA’s on-line format offered articles supporting these relevant topics:

  • Weight Stigma & Physicians
  • Weight Stigma in the Practice of Psychotherapy
  • Weight Stigma in Schools & Kids Programs
  • Weight Stigma & Fitness Professionals
  • Weight Stigma in Nutrition Counselling Settings.

As an educator,I was impressed by the quality of the contributors as well as the standard of the downloadable toolkits for individuals and professionals.Too often one is left saying,‘great, but what do I do now?’ The toolkits were an effective addition, thank you AED.

Focusing on specific areas where bias occurs helped to highlight the problems faced by individuals as well as many experienced professionals in overcoming the stigma which hinders help.The advice given was practical, sensitive and reassuring.

Another success was the Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) Tweetchat “Let’s Talk About Weight Stigma: A …continue reading Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014


Welcome to the Weight Debate.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?What does the mirror tell you?

Over the years I’ve watched with growing dismay as the pressure for an ideal body size has become one of the biggest issues of our time.

I’ve observed how men, too, are increasingly pressurised by these same ideals. I’ve seen a surge in eating disorders encompassing all age groups, especially older women. All alongside an explosion of social media – multiplying the pressures hundredfold.

What can we do? And what is really going on here?

I don’t have all the answers.

But I know that we can inspire change in the way we think and feel about our (and others) bodies.

I believe knowledge is power. Therefore we must educate, interact and encourage each other.

So this page is dedicated to offering the widest range of views on the weight debate.

It’s a page seeking to highlight writers – each bringing their own unique insight and experience of the ‘weight debate’. Writers with passionate opinions and specialist knowledge of our culture of ‘thin’.

Including me.


P.S. Do you have a previous article or blog post which deserves another ‘outing’? Would you like to contribute a guest post? I’d love to hear from you – please get in touch!