Friday, April 30, 2010

an article about weight that does not induce panic?

"Researchers and doctors are starting to understand that eating healthy foods and getting exercise can matter more than the number that appears when you step on the scale."

"A little physical activity" twice a week was enough to ameliorate some of the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle."

"An Australian study found that people in their 70's who were overweight were less likely to die in a ten-year time span."

These are a few quotes that are refreshingly different from the general hysteria about weight from a recent Post article. A few months ago the Post exhorted women to partake in 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity a day if they wanted to stave off weight gain associated with aging. (The natural and as these studies suggest-protective weight gain associated with aging...) Every time you turn around you read about the perils of being "overweight" or "obese," how your pudgy child will die an early death of diabetes and misery.

There is a whole body of research out there that questions some of our most basic assumptions about weight and health, and the fact that even some of them are getting press is exciting.

I think it's a nice start. (Though the article fails in it's discussion about "obesity" in that most studies do not separate once folks get above a BMI of 30. Much of the risk associated with "obesity" does not appear statistically significant until the BMI is over 35 or 40... Just a note on how the statistics can be manipulated or not fully disclosed or understood.)

Thoughts? Did you see this or other "whistles in the hurricane" of health hysteria?


  1. It's definitely refreshing to hear a little voice of reason in the fat-hate storm.

    I'm curious about the risks for people who have a bmi higher than 40 and their risk. How much does exercise reduce that risk?

    I also wish that as a society we were more open minded about a range of body sizes. I don't want to generalize, but I know a lot of death fat people who dieted to their current size trying to be way smaller than they were intended to be, where if just left to their own devices they might well have ended up comfortably in the overweight category. My mother, for instance, thinks anyone woman over 130 lbs is fat, and you better be pretty darn tall if you're near 130 and I fear her point of view is the norm.

    Now I'm rambling, I apologize. I'm still glad for any sensibility in the media.

  2. Kate, I think you hit the nail on the head. If, as a society we could accept the biological range of normal sizes I think we would have far less of the extremes. For example, I weigh 160 pounds. If I had bought into the "ideal" and started to diet or force my weight down to 130, I believe that I would be far heavier today, after years of dieting and rebound weight gain. I have heard many adults say they first stared dieting at 9 or 12 and have had the pattern common to chronic dieters of short term weight loss followed by regain plus some. There are studies about size and weight. Several of the "fit and fat" studies, but I don't know off hand above 40 what those studies say. I do know that exercise and competent eating in female patients above 30 (don't know the breakdown) improved blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar even without weight loss... The cure for many "weight related" illnesses is not weight loss per se (and in fact, making the goal and treatment weight loss almost dooms it to fail for most.) Self-care at any weight including exercise and eating well can improve health.