Beyond BMI: Redefining Health Standards with Dr. Elizabeth Rathbun

The Hidden Harm of Childhood Obesity Campaigns: Insights from Dr. Rathbun

Welcome to ‘Beyond Intuitive Eating,’ the podcast where food freedom and holistic health converge to support your wellness journey. In our 23rd episode, we delved into the sensitive topic of childhood obesity with Dr. Elizabeth Rathbun, a clinical psychologist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and certified eating disorder specialist well-known for her work from a trauma-informed and Health at Every Size (HAES) perspective. Our host, Beth Basham, a seasoned dietitian and intuitive eating counselor, led the compelling conversation that exposed the nuances behind the ‘war on childhood obesity.’

The discussion opened with Dr. Rathbun sharing her insightful personal journey, which is deeply intertwined with our culture’s pervasive normative discontent around bodies and dieting. She reflected on her struggles and how they fuel her mission to assist individuals in shedding the burdens of food and weight concerns.

Dr. Rathbun, who runs her private practice offering telehealth services and online intuitive eating groups, critiqued the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines on obesity. While acknowledging their expertise, she highlighted the contradictions within and raised concerns regarding the overly narrow focus on weight rather than on health determinants such as stress, nutrition, and lifestyle.

Beth Basham reopened the discourse on her group coaching program, ‘Peace of Food and Soul,’ urging our listeners to seek more personalized pathways to health. She also underlined the significance of body respect and the need for individualized health solutions from a Hayes perspective in her conversation with Dr. Rathbun.

Both professionals stressed the importance of self-trust over the diet and fitness industry’s narrative. They discussed how parents’ behaviors and words could dramatically shape their children’s health perception and body image, advocating for a compassionate and behavior-focused approach rather than one fixated on weight.

Dr. Rathbun’s collaboration with a dietitian to offer an upcoming intuitive eating group represents this approach, promising a personalized experience that underlines the autonomy of the individual in their health journey. The episode boldly addressed the complexities of desiring food freedom alongside weight loss aspirations, emphasizing the uniqueness of each person’s wellness path.

Moreover, the conversation touched on the use of medications and alternative treatments for weight-related health issues in adolescents. Dr. Rathbun and Beth Basham critiqued the limited access to care and the need for education and systemic changes, pointing out the dangers of intentional weight loss and restrictive behaviors. They stand united in advocating for a health-at-every-size perspective.

By questioning the real issues behind the ‘war on obesity,’ this episode of ‘Beyond Intuitive Eating’ encourages listeners to define health on their own terms and reclaim their well-being, untethered from body shame. It’s an episode rich with insights, imperative not just for those with young ones, but for anyone yearning to understand the intersections of health, society, and self-acceptance.

Dr. Rathbun can be found sharing more of her wisdom on Instagram @pauseprocess and at And don’t forget, Beth Basham offers additional support through her free Facebook group and private coaching opportunities – check the show notes for more details.

We hope this episode serves as a beacon of body respect and food freedom. Share this message with friends and join us in the movement toward a healthier, more understanding world, for the sake of our current and future generations.

Listen to the episode here


00:00 Challenging societal views on fatness and health.

06:07 Personal struggle led to advocating for body acceptance.

07:48 Relating to Dr. Rathbin on body image.

14:21 Obesity approach criticized for promoting weight bias.

16:55 Discussion of weight bias and intervention programs.

21:22 Hesitation about medication for kids, holistic approach.

24:05 Promote education, access to food, sleep, movement.

27:36 Weight stigma exacerbates health issues; not weight itself.

32:18 Addressing personal biases to foster family wellness.

34:33 Reclaiming health on our own terms.

38:49 Respecting body autonomy and weight loss goals.

39:48 Respect where they are in health journey.

44:57 Group coaching program to attain body confidence.

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