Is Size Really Relevant When It Comes To Health?

Scientific American

New science says that there’s no such thing as ‘healthy obese.’ Rather, you have to change the way you think because reality is, It’s not that your weight doesn’t matter. There are also so many other things that come into play. Weight is only one of the factors.

The question now really is: Is being slightly overweight really bad? Or is everyone making a bigger deal than it should be?

Experts have preached about it time and again. It’s true. Body weight is highly correlated with the risk of a variety of health problems such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. However, this isn’t the only issue that leads to the downward spiral of health. There are several other indicators too, some of which are blood pressure, blood sugar, blood fats, and inflammation. Some have even taken a stance on the argument that you can be overweight and still be considered “metabolically healthy” if the other risk factors involved are considered medically normal.

According to a new study, this is untrue. Even for those with normal blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, being overweight alone can increase the risk of heart disease by a significant 28 percent. “We conclude that there is no such thing as being healthy obese,” shared Camille Lassalle, a lead researcher on the study. Hence, this statement may set back for people who have taken the Health at Every Size approach to life.


The Idea of Health at Every Size

There is a Health at Every Size movement that’s been happening as of late. People who preach this harp on acceptance and appreciation of one’s body. Whether you’re overweight or not, this belief encourages those who carry those extra pounds to shift their focus from losing weight to other healthy habits. They promote healthy eating and regular workout more than looking at their bodies. There are also some nutrition professionals who have joined the bandwagon and are getting on board with this belief, and for several reasons too.


Weight is Just a Number

So, are the numbers on the scale indicative of your overall health? This is a question that has been asked time and again.

Body composition isn’t always considered when measuring body weight and body mass index (BMI). Here’s a perfect example: a very muscular person may have a BMI that experts consider overweight or obese, but when you look at them, you know that it’s not true at all. On the opposite side of the spectrum, someone who measures low on the BMI scale may still have a significant amount of visceral fat. This is what they call the “skinny-fat” phenomenon. This actually increases their risk of the variety of diseases mentioned previously. It’s also good to note that the conventional criteria for healthy body weight are based primarily on the Caucasian body types. Hence, people from all races and ethnicities cannot base their readings on this.


Overweight Bias and Discrimination

When you also consider reality, those who are overweight oftentimes face bias and discrimination from people around. Unfortunately, even those who work with the health care industry are guilty of this. Several studies have shown that overweight and obese patients often become recipients of less than better care. They also get less support from the health care providers they go to. And because the problem is more rampant among those from low-income brackets and minorities, the bias against those who are overweight can disproportionately affect this group as they are at a disadvantage. The attitude also contributes to the downward spiral of poor consequences.

Those who belong to the Health at Every Size movement continues to rage against this stigma. They want to go past the stereotyping that’s linked to being overweight. They are fighting for equal access and treatment, with their size being irrelevant in the consideration.


Honing In on Something that Can be Changed

There are those that believe that some nutrition professionals are actually promoting the Health at Every Size approach. That’s because they have seen in the last few decades how nagging people to lose weight, the statistics for those who suffer from this problem remain significantly unchanged. There are those who have stopped trying to shed off those extra pounds and it’s because the chances for a long-term success appear to be disheartening.

Maybe losing weight should be approached differently. Right now, it’s best to look into things that can be changed rather than being indifferent about the issue. Right now, people should actually look into being as healthy as you can be at your current size. This can be the bridge to being healthier at a healthier size.


Vegetables are for Everyone, Not Just for Skinny People

There are actually people who have opted to practice a healthier lifestyle. Look into those who have quit smoking. Many of them have been inspired by their resolution that they actually decided to adapt a healthier lifestyle as well. In the past, those who have quit the stick have resorted to eating to satisfy a craving. This is no longer the case for many.

In the same way, the Health at Every Size philosophy tries to change and adjust the attitude that exercise and vegetables are only for those who want to stay thin. This is far from the truth. Rather, those in the movement have been encouraging everyone to pursue living life with healthy habits, and this is regardless of the weight they see on the scale. They want everyone to find ways to evaluate and measure progress other than looking at how heavy they are. The most valuable thing is to listen to your body rather than listening to what the scale tells you.


Is Being Healthy at Any Size Really Possible?

In a world that has people who are both stubbornly overweight and intensely biased against being overweight, the Health at Every Size philosophy is a refreshing change. The movement provides valuable, new, and much-needed perspective. Yes, weight does matter, but there’s more to it than that. The numbers on the scale is just a part of the solution. You also need to know that there are many things that you can do and you need to fight for your right to get equal treatment from every single person, medical experts included.

If you do have extra pounds on you, losing weight may probably decrease the risk of a variety of diseases. But losing weight needs to be approached in a reasonable and sustainable way. Choose to eat healthy and make sure you stay active. You may not have the figure of a fashion model, but at your current weight, you also know that you’re at your best. It’s a matter of changing your mindset. People come in different body types. It’s what they do with it that matters most.


The Gist of It All

People have discussed this issue on several podcasts and articles. 

The Lesson You Need to Know

Yes, body weight is strongly correlated with the risk of various diseases. People who are obese are more at risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. But then again, there are several are numerous other indicators as well. Some of these are blood pressure, blood sugar, blood fats, and inflammation. The crux of the matter is that eating more vegetables and exercising more often can get you on the road to a better and healthier you, regardless of your size.

Notable Excerpt from an Expert

According to an expert, “Body weight and body mass index (BMI) doesn’t take into account body composition. A very muscular person may have a BMI that’s considered overweight or obese, when they are no such thing. On the flip side of the coin, someone with a low BMI may still have a high amount of visceral fat—the so-called “skinny-fat” phenomenon—which increases disease risk. . . . Also, the conventional criteria for healthy body weight are based primarily on Caucasian body types and may not be appropriate for people of all races and ethnicities.”

The Expert Who Speaks

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS is also known as The Nutrition Diva. She is an expert on the matter and she tries to teach people how to make healthy living as simple to understand as possible. She is a Baltimore-based nutritionist who is also the host of the fabulous fitness-centered podcast called The Nutrition Diva’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous. Moreover, she is the bestselling author of several health books that people have read. Some of which are “The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan” and “The Nutrition Diva’s Secrets For a Healthy Diet”.