Overweight AND Healthy?

October 07, 2009


I initially started this post as "How to tell your best friend (or good friend) they're fat," but after some brief research and stumbling across Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" web site, I sat back for a moment and realized what I condoning. When it comes to women's issues I am a borderline feminist. I believe that women everywhere should love their bodies no matter the color, shape, size or amount of cellulite. I was disappointed that my potential post might give the wrong impression. This moment of clarity caused me to take a step back and evaluate the difference between being overweight and obese and when you SHOULD encourage those friends of yours to get more active (look for that post soon).

I came across another article titled "The Overweight Debate: Healthy and Heavy?" Could it be possible to be overweight, but healthy? Turns out the answer is yes. According to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports,"Active obese individuals actually have lower morbidity and mortality than normal weight individuals who are sedentary … the health risks of obesity are largely controlled if a person is physically active and physically fit."

There's more to it than just the weight vs. height ratio and your BMI (Body Mass Index). Most doctors agree that weight loss is an important to preventing diseases, but there's several other factors that should be taken into consideration. They are:

  • Age (Women 45 and older are at a higher risk of diabetes. Cancer risks also increase with age)
  • Family History (Five to 10 percent of cancers or inherited)
  • Waist measurement (Women with a waistline of 25 inches or larger have a higher risk of heart disease no matter their weight. A measurement of 31.5 inches or more indicates a higher risk of some cancers)
  • Fitness (Walking briskly for 30 minutes, five days a week helps protect you from disease)
  • Cholesterol and inflammation
If you don't have a family history of diseases, your waist size is in check, you exercise regularly, your cholesterol normal, but you BMI says you're overweight. Chances are you'd be fine with staying the size you are. However, losing those extra 5-10 pounds will give you more energy, high self-esteem, you won't have to worry about health problems associated with a high fat diet and you will look and feel different.

Portions of this post was taken from "The Overweight Debate: Healthy and Heavy?" by Sarah Mahoney.

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