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Can You Be Overweight and Healthy?

Getting to the Weight of the Matter


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  • I'd be finding a new doctor.
    As far as I can tell, there is NO evidence that BMI tells us anything specific about an individual. Yes, fat is implicated in some cancers and for some other conditions less is better, but there is NO reason to think than a BMI of 25 is magically better than 26. I have lost nearly 70 lbs, but still weigh 273. I am the healthiest I have ever been. My blood numbers are enviable and I bike 100-200 miles a week. I haven't been sick in four years. I know that my weight still puts me at risk, especially for orthopedic injuries, which could serious compromise my fitness level, so I am working to lose more weight. I know, however, that I am far more healthy than lots of people who weigh less.

    My conclusion, based on looking at a lot of studies, is that fitness is the best SINGLE predictor of health and far, far, better that BMI or even percent fat. That said, excess fat is also not good for the body and in the absence of fitness is even more pernicious.

    With regard to the doctor referenced in the article: get another doctor. Good motivation comes from supporting success, not undercutting them.
  • My husband died 021613 from heart disease. He was 46. He was thin (6ft tall 170 lbs). But his cholesterol was elevated but not scary high. His triglycerides were very high (400+). And he was a 2 pack a day smoker. But he did not consider himself to be unhealthy because he was thin even though his vitals said otherwise. He would put me down because of my weight even though my vitals were better than his (even though mine definitely have room for improvement). He refused to do anything that would improve his health. His death has been my wake up call. But I am looking at this as a life style change and not a diet. I am exercising at least 3 times/week now and am making healthy changes to my eating habits. I hope weight loss will be a side effect from these changes.
  • Quite honestly, I wish the whole diet industrial complex would finally get the message that BMI is a statistical tool meant for entire populations, not individuals. I'm at a higher point of the so-called "normal" BMI range, yet I'm far more likely to develop certain co-morbidities (e.g. a replacement knee) than people in the "obese" range simply because of my medical history and- oh no!- physical activities.

    I agree that physical fitness is a better indicator of health (and future health) than any other, but I also think that's incredibly ableist, classist, and a host of other -ists. Waist circumference ratio is a good tool, I believe, but one that needs further testing against long-term mortality rates.

    My final conclusion on the "weight issue"? Every person has to decide for themselves how they feel, whether they want to lose weight or not, whether they are fit or not, whether they are happy. The recent AMA classification of obesity as a disease makes me want to smash something in rage- obese people have been treated the way Lori has by her doctor for far too long, and the association obese=disease is only going to hurt more individuals. Obesity is NOT a disease, obese people are NOT a disease.

    Weight is a non-issue for me in everyone who isn't myself. I'll never look at anyone and think "unhealthy" just because of their body shape. I can only hope that doctors, and society, will finally catch up and allow people to just be, without making them into a socio-economic and political tool.
  • Well - the AMA has now classified obesity as a disease and that's going to make it hard to be both fit and fat. Officially, anyway. The argument for this classification is to make doctors take obesity more seriously. (Really? doctors haven't taken it seriously since when?) The argument against it include this quote from the NYTimes:

    "...that it is more a risk factor for other conditions than a disease in its own right.

    They also say that “medicalizing” obesity by declaring it a disease would define one-third of Americans as being ill and could lead to more reliance on costly drugs and surgery rather than lifestyle changes. Some people might be overtreated because their B.M.I. was above a line designating them as having a disease, even though they were healthy."
  • My recommended BMI is 120-155 lbs. That's a lot of leeway. I was always fit even when overweight, but over time that extra weight was a "drag." Why would I want my heart and lungs to make all that extra effort especially as I got older?
    Maybe it's possible to continue to be fit and fat, but I'm enjoying life more now that the "fat" is history.
    Yes, I want to be strong too and weight train for that, but I don't need an extra 30 lbs of anything regardless of its composition.
    Doctors definitely need education to help their patients and it would be great if insurance companies were concerned with our heath and not just their bottom line.
  • I was really upset to hear how this doctor damaged his patient's sense of achievement and motivation.

    Maybe we should research how to help Doctors provide better encouragement?
    Since the best markers for health and longevity are homocysteine, C-Reactive Protien and tryglycerides; and since doctors do not offer them it is difficult to understand how a doctor can advise anyone they are healthy or unhealthy. Since premature death is anyone who dies before aged 79 years of age you can see why doctors need to review their tests and get scientific (instead of opinionated).
    PS the above are solved with B Vitamins and low inflammatory foods you can see it is not rocket science.
  • I knew that I had put on too much weight. So when I went to the doctor for spme health problems he told me I had to loose some weight. But I already knew that because I didn't have the get up and go power.
  • ive been overweight since i was 17 and im happy that now i have a doctor that when i go in for my well woman exams she comments on how good my blood pressure is and how how my cholesterol is normal. she tells me to keep up whatever im doing because its obviously working. she does say that yes weight loss would be a good thing but i told her all im doing and shes not worried about my weight. she also knows i have medical issue that makes it almost impossible to lose weight unless i starve myself. so she sees that my muscles are building and my numbers are healthy and doesnt care about the rest. she just says keep it up and tells me that the weight will eventually come off itll just be extremely slow for me. as long as im healthy im good.
  • TOMS0321
    About a year ago I did some research into being fit and fat. I have never been fat, but then I found out that as you age it is a good idea to become a little fat, not obese, and to make sure you fit. I decided to become fit and fat and to gain the needed weight slowly. I found out that if you gain the weight slowly you will most likely not be able to lose the weight and will always remain fat.

    What I found out to my pleasant surprise is that my body became quite accustomed slowly to being fat, I found I like how I look and feel. Yes I have a belly but it really is not that bad, and yes I work out 5 to 6 dayss an week and yes I am very active. I have never felt so good being fat.

    The weight around 30 pounds went right into my belly and since it went on slowly I have come to accept the fact that I will always be rather fat, but I have full intentions of being fit. Now I am just a fat guy, but I am fit.

    I checked with my doctor and my blood pressure has stayed the same low, and since I became fat slowly and do exercise my blood sugare is very normal.
  • I had a VERY similar situation crop up.
    Over the past year, I've lost over 80 pounds... And, when I had the annual work physical - they didn't comment on how far I've come. Didn't comment that I'd lost so much weight, dropped my BMI (which is a stupid system, btw) from grossly obese to the very low end of overweight....
    NOOOO... they just kept harping that I was overweight & should consider changing my diet/exercise habits because I was "overweight".
    Nevermind the fact that I've run several 5ks this past year, that I run twice a week & do weight training twice a week. That I've gone from a size 26 to a 12.
  • On the one hand, yes, it is possible to be overweight and fit.

    But it is relative fitness, not absolute. The same individual, less active but not overeating, could remain overweight and become less fit. The same individual, more active and eating just below needs, could move toward a healthy weight and become more fit.

    No matter how fit we believe ourselves to be when overweight, we do have long-term issues that slowly build up. Joints, tendons, and ligaments are more stressed from the greater amount of weight / pressure with every action. Organs work harder to keep up with the larger amount of food being consumed and to process the excesses in the blood and body.

    I ~AM~ relatively fit for an overweight person. But I want to be even more fit and be able to say "I am fit" without the qualifier.
  • There is a lot of information in this article and I felt it was attempting to cover too much ground: the message I took away was, "Yes, but..."
    About two years ago, I had normal lipid profile, great blood pressure, sugar, etc. but I was overweight. By looking at my test results you would have never suspected that I was days away from what would have surely been a fatal heart attack - my doctor, following a hunch about my vague "allergy" symptoms, had me stress-tested and I had an angioplasty that same day to open a 99.9% blocked artery. We have to deal with abdominal fat, no matter how many pushups we can do in a minute.
  • There is a big difference in being fat, over weight, and being muscular. You can't go by your height and weight to lnow your BMI.. My aerobic instructor is a perfect example, 5"3, 155 lbs.but all muscle, not an once of fat. Charts say she shoud be 120. lbs.
    But I don't care how healthy you seem to be and what you do, if you have rolls of fat or too much excess showing anywhere, you need to lose weight. If you are young it might not registered as a medical issue. But as you age if you carry around that extra fat you will be subject to medical issues.
    Too many of the population these days seems to think they are looking great and flaunting all the extra weight as if it's fabulous looking. It's not. There is an obesity epidemic happening across the country.
    The medical problems that this epidemic will cause is frightening.
    Don't look for excuse to be fat or over weight.

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