Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Convergence of Opposites!

posted originally on

In this installment of Face Off: Dr. Abby Vs. “Dr. South Beach” (Dr. Agaston) we discuss my philosophy of weight management. Initially I thought my “health at every size, naturally” philosophy was diametrically opposed to Dr. Agaston's views. However, as can be seen from the following interview, we are very much in agreement!

Dr. Abby: My next book, Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution!, advocates fitness rather than weight loss. This means responding to bodily signals of hunger and satiety, eating nutrient dense foods, and incorporating moderate physical activity. I talk a lot about psychological coping strategies, and offer acceptance for “imperfect” bodies by celebrating function over appearance. I abandon BMI, and look towards measures of blood pressure, HDL, triglycerides, and blood sugar (to determine overall health). What do you think of this approach?

Dr. Agatston: We’re in complete agreement! I agree that’s what we have to move towards… I think you’re right on! …Science is coming to agreement on these issues, but there is a delay in getting the word out. I think communities and workplaces have to be built around this approach, so it’s easy. From the beginning of the first South Beach Diet book, we realized the people we called “foodies,” the people who can shop all day, spend time at the gym, and enjoy cooking do well. But we have to affect everybody else also, and there’s only a percentage of people who are going to take that time and effort.

As a national health problem, we really have to change communities and schools to make it easier, and it is getting easier and easier, with places like Whole Foods. Not that I agree with everything they do, but they are advertising whole grain foods they didn’t used to advertise. The word is getting out there, and it’s easier for schools to find healthy foods; not like when we started, it was very difficult.

Dr. Abby: We need to increase the demand for healthy foods so the price comes down. A big concern of mine is the price break, and there is a class difference. I know I’m getting away from the question… We can advocate nutritious foods, but if it’s beyond the reach of a lot of people, we need to work toward awareness and availability.

Dr. Agatston: I agree. With the demand, the price does come down.

Dr. Abby: That’s my hope. So if we’re both demanding it, maybe we will make a difference!

Commentary: It was very comforting to hear Dr. Agatston agree that we must redefine health to advocate fitness, rather than weight loss, and emphasize hunger and satiety, nutrient dense foods, moderate physical activity, and healthy coping skills. When he suggested that science supports using measures of blood pressure, HDL, triglycerides, and blood sugar to determine overall health instead of BMI, I practically did a happy dance! Dr. Agatston, you made my day!


Dr. Abby Aronowitz is a psychologist, speaker and coach, who completed work at Columbia University. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Previously a consultant to Weight Watchers International, Dr. Abby has been featured on WebMD.com and AOL Diet and Fitness. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa, and President of DAA, Inc.


No comments: