Body Image Research Lab

Body Image Research Lab

Lead and transform research about weight-related issues like body image, disordered eating, weight-related disorders and professional conversations and interactions about weight.

The Enigma of Weight

This short animation explores the complexities of weight. Our weight can change throughout our lives, and our perceptions of weight and those changes are influenced by multiple factors. Funded in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 

Weight-Neutral Wellbeing in the School Setting

Weight is not a helpful or healthy focus for school-based health education or health promotion. There are numerous harms that can result when weight is measured or discussed in the school setting. Instead, we can take a weight-neutral approach to health and wellbeing. A Comprehensive School Health approach considers the multi-dimensional wellbeing of all members of a school community and relies on four inter-related components related to health education and health promotion. The Comprehensive School Health framework is a useful tool for considering how to ensure health is promoted from a weight-neutral perspective in the school setting. While each school will have its own specific needs to address, the following suggestions are recommended for creating schools where all students can thrive.

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An Open Letter to all Alberta Parents of School-Aged Children - Kindergarten to Grade 6 Curriculum

Dear Parents,

As Director of the Body Image Research Lab, a Research Professor in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, and perhaps, most importantly, as the mother of a teenage daughter, I am writing to urge you to raise your voice in protest against the Draft Physical Education and Wellness Kindergarten to Grade 6 Curriculum ( As a researcher and educator who has spent my almost 20-year career studying body image and weight-related issues, I am gravely concerned about how this curriculum might harm our children’s relationship with their bodies, which directly impacts their wellbeing 

In the News

Pandemic puts health on the agenda at schools

A positive upshot of COVID-19 may be an amplification of focus on kids’ overall health and wellness in education systems

Are we over weight yet? New guidelines aim to reduce obesity stigma in health care

New guidelines for health-care providers advise supporting every individual to achieve their best health, rather than focusing on weight status, write Shelly Russell-Mayhew, Werklund School of Education, and colleagues in Conversation Canada

How ‘weight bias’ is harming us all

Shelly Russell-Mayhew, Werklund School of Education, writing in Conversation Canada

In the News Explore UCalgary

Weight bias: Another lens on obesity

Werklund School researcher dissects the complexity and bias around weight and body image

Shelly Russell-Mayhew conducts impactful study with funding from Social Science and Humanities Research Council