• Emma Green

When more knowledge is not the answer


Photo credit: Kim Burrows

I often see conversations about food and exercise where the the solution is seen as being education. If only we told people how to eat, how to exercise etc that would solve the issue. This has been shown be hugely ineffective in both research and anecdotally. Case in point over the last 20 years or so, we’ve received more and more education about diet and exercise yet are less healthy than ever. I have also experienced this personally. When I was struggling with my eating disorder, I didn’t think what I was doing was healthy. I had clear evidence it wasn’t: I had no period, a stress fracture, frequent chest pains and a diagnosis of osteoporosis. I was also studying psychology at university so knew the psychological implications of what I was doing. Despite this, I carried on. I did that because I felt trapped. I didn’t need more knowledge. I needed to believe that I could change. I needed someone to talk to who wasn’t going to judge me. Above all, I needed to experience a rock bottom place before I could even think about changing. We don’t need more education. We need a greater appreciation for psychology and its complexity. We need to listen to people and find out what they are struggling with and what they need. If we spoke less and listened more, we’d be able to help people much more effectively.

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