Opening Keynote: Health for Every Body

Health for Every Body: Understanding and Addressing the Real Causes of Poor Health

Keynote Summary

Imagine for a moment you are attending a health-related conference, sitting in a large room with many hundreds of your peers, listening to the keynote presentation. The speaker begins her presentation by asking, “Do you consider yourself to be healthy?”  She pauses for a moment or two and continues, “Please raise your hand if you think you are healthy.” What did you think about before you decided whether or not to raise your hand? What does it mean to you to be healthy? How would you determine whether you were more or less healthy than the persons sitting next to you? If you could ask them 3 questions to help you determine who was healthier, what would you ask? How much do they exercise, drink, or smoke or what their diets are like? How about blood pressure, cholesterol, or body mass index? What does it mean to be healthy?

There has been a tremendous amount of discussion recently about the “sorry state of health” in western industrial nations. We are constantly being warned that we are in the midst of a number of devastating epidemics and that as a result our children are not going to live as we do. Regularly scolded by prevention experts, health professionals and just about anyone else who has a computer and an internet hookup; we are clearly and simply too fat, too sedentary and eating all the wrong foods.

The recommended solution? If we would just exercise and eat right, it would fix our broken health care system, prevent 80-90% of chronic diseases and maybe even save the planet. And according to a number of experts, the biggest problem is that we just don’t care. One such expert suggested that the biggest threat to people’s health was - I don’t care itis – and another researcher coined the phrase oblivobesity because apparently we have not yet made larger people feel bad enough about themselves to actually force them to do something about their weight – the difficulty of which been overstated because, as this expert put it, “by and large, we can lose weight and find health by eating well and being active.” 

People’s health behaviors are almost always assumed to be the main cases of poor health. In fact however, research consistently demonstrates that these behaviors actually account for less than 25% of the disparities in health across our nations. It turns out that by far, the major causes of these disparities have to do with what is termed the social determinants of health. HEALTH FOR EVERY BODY takes an in depth look at these underlying societal, economic and emotional issues that are the real root causes of poor health. In addition to exploring the overarching impact of access, equity and social justice, particular focus will be paid to relevant weight and eating-related issues in our fat- and food-phobic culture including; weight stigma and discrimination, food preoccupation and shaming, and disordered eating.  A truly holistic, inclusive approach for helping people come to peace with their bodies and their food and improve their health will be introduced.

Presenter Biography

Jon Robison holds a doctorate in health education/exercise physiology and a master of science in human nutrition from Michigan State University where he is Adjunct Assistant Professor. Dr. Robison is also Adjunct Associate Professor in The Holistic Health Care program at Western Michigan University. He has spent his career working to shift health promotion away from its traditional, biomedical, control-oriented focus, with a particular interest in why people do what they do and don’t do what they don’t do.

Jon has authored numerous articles and book chapters on a variety of health-related topics and is a frequent presenter at conferences throughout North America. He is co-author of the book, The Spirit & Science of Holistic Health - More than Broccoli, Jogging and Bottled Water, More than Yoga, Herbs and Meditation, a college textbook and a guidebook for practitioners who wish to incorporate holistic principles and practices into their work. This book provided the foundation for Kailo, one of the first truly holistic employee wellness programs. Kailo won prestigious awards in both Canada and The United States, and the creators lovingly claim Jon as its father.

 Jon has been a national leader in the Health At Every Size Movement for more than 2 decades. He has implemented Health for Every Body® — a unique alternative to weight loss programs at the worksite in over 15 cities across the United States in the past 2 years. He is also one of the featured health professionals in the powerful documentary America The Beautiful II: The Thin Commandments and has been helping people struggling with weight- and eating-related concerns for 25 years.

His new-released book: How to Build a Thriving Culture at Work: Featuring The 7 Points of Transformation, written with co-conspirator Dr. Rosie Ward gives organizations a realistic, step-by-step blueprint to accomplish the difficult task of transforming their cultures to be healthier and more productive — “from the inside out". The book was selected by Employee Benefit News as one of the top must reads for 2016.

As a Certified Intrinsic Coach, Jon understands that behavior is the outward manifestation of thinking and feeling – and that behavior modification approaches that focus on extrinsic motivation rarely result in sustained change and, in fact, often inhibit intrinsic motivation.

Aside from his work, Jon’s passions include his wife Jerilyn, music, humor, a 7-lb living Teddy Bear named Ginger and watching his gifted son Joshua play college soccer.