Research & Practice

Development of a Weight-Inclusive Nutrition Education Toolkit

In response to a new 2022 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Diversity, Equity, and
Inclusion (DEI) requirement, the Weight Inclusive Toolkit Initiative (WITI) Committee (a subset
of the Weight Inclusive Education Initiative) was hired by Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and
Preceptors (NDEP) to develop an educational toolkit. The problem being addressed by the WITI
Committee is that the majority of nation-wide nutritional sciences curricula are based in
“weight-normative care.” This is an incredibly far-reaching population-level problem, because
this kind of healthcare is built on the premise that larger bodies are less healthy, and that weight
loss is a reasonable, possible, and valuable goal for people in those bodies to become more
healthy (despite reams of evidence to the contrary). Predicated primarily on the fraught Body
Mass Index (BMI), this principle, and the ideas that flow out of it, perpetuates the health of the
most privileged, while impeding the health of those who find themselves not identifying as:
white, male, small-bodied, wealthy, etc.

The toolkit, and the committee, are built on the premise that body size diversity is a normal part
of human existence, and that it should be celebrated and encouraged, in educational settings,
healthcare settings, and life in general. The Committee has determined that an overhaul of the
weight-normative nutritional sciences curricula is the best method for bringing about the change
at a broad enough level. The toolkit strives to replace weight-normative nutritional sciences
education with a new curriculum that attempts to “do no harm” by replacing biased materials and
lessons with lessons that have been developed by people with lived experience, and with
extensive DEI training in the areas of: weight bias, racism, healthism, ableism, and others. This
toolkit will also bring to the forefront the health implications of experiencing this kind of bias
and stigma, as well as the intersectionality of bias experienced by societies most marginalized.
Public-health problem solving skills being applied are those of Assessment and Policy
Development, specifically “addressing health hazards and root causes” and “communicating
effectively to inform and educate.”

Professors and preceptors surveyed by NDEP, representing close to 150 nutritional sciences
programs across the country, stated they would use the Weight Inclusive Toolkit and provided
input on what they wanted to be included. NDEP has agreed to share the completed toolkit with
all NDEP members, roughly 1350 professors and preceptors who comprise the majority of
accredited dietetics programs in the US. Further, the WITI Committee would like to reach out to
all accredited dietetics program to ensure they have access to the toolkit and also share
applicable parts of the toolkit with dietitians and health professionals (via their collaborative
relationship with the DEI rep from the ADCES organization and the IAEDP organizations).

Materials Available

Project Type(s): MPH Practicum, PH Concentration Poster

Author(s): Kaitlin Benjamin

Program(s): Master of Public Health, RDN Training

Year: 2022