The Obesity Myth
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I've been reading a lot lately! In fact, I probably spend at least an hour a day reading now. So, I’ve been going to the library a lot and I found this book called The Obesity Myth.
I'm only about a quarter into it, but it's basically about how as a society Americans are being told that there is this obesity "epidemic." He's saying that while there are a lot of overweight and obese Americans (well, duh) that it is in no way an "epidemic."
He delves into scientific study after scientific study where obesity researchers come to the conclusion that fat people should get skinny because that'd be healthier for them, when that's not what their studies are showing them. While it is better to be active and healthy, he says that we shouldn't automatically look to the overweight person and tell them that they are unhealthy and that the way to become healthy is to lose weight. Changing their lifestyle? Yes, but not necessarily shedding massive amounts of pounds.
He focuses on the fact that we should be encouraging EVERYONE to eat better and become more active. Not assuming that the person of "normal" weight is healthier than an "overweight" person. When the actual number on the scale does not, in and of itself, determine how healthy one is.
In fact, studies have found that moderately active, overweight people are healthier than sedentary thin people. But obesity researchers don't like that conclusion. Especially since they are partnered with numerous diet and pharmaceutical companies. They want "obesity" to be this big, bad disease that needs to be cured. They want to sell their diet pills; they want people to keep buying the next new "diet fad."
What worries the author (sorry I don't have the book in front of me, I can't remember his name) is that people are constantly being told that losing weight is the only way they can become healthier. Which leads most people (not us, here on Spark!) to use unhealthy diet measures just to change the number on the scale. Then they’ve “beat” the disease. The number of the scale is down and their doctor can give them a nice pat on the back. That is, until the constant deprivation leads them to "cheat" and binge. This "weight cycling" as he calls it, is detrimental to our health. In fact, studies have shown that remaining overweight is HEALTHIER than yo-yo dieting.
When I first began to read this I thought, well that can't be right, but it makes perfect sense if you think about it. Going on a cycle of eating too little, eating too much, eating too little, eating too much, is not the way to live your life! If my only options were to yo-yo diet or to be overweight, I'd very much like to remain overweight please!
Right now I’m in a section about fat culture. I don’t know about other countries, but I know that in America, “average” people look at overweight people as though they have some sort of disease. How people think to themselves “geez, just eat less.” As though it were something as simple as that.
I’ll probably write a blog once I’ve finished the book to determine what I think about the whole thing. What I do know is that he is right in saying that we should be focusing on being active and eating right. Not necessarily trying to make a certain number show up on the scale, or to fit into a certain pant size.
Here are Sparkpeople we are learning every day how to become healthier people. Which leaves me with almost a sense of accomplishment that I know how to do something in a healthy way that can last a lifetime. No yo-yo dieting for me!