Debunking 4 of the Top Obesity Myths

By , David F., SparkPeople Contributor

Obesity is a critical health issue affecting the quality of life of millions of Americans. Unfortunately, too many myths still persist that prevent Americans from tackling their obesity head-on. 

Myth: Genetics Are to Blame

Too many individuals still believe the tired myth that genetics are to blame for obesity. Can genetics play a role in weight gain? Of course they can! However, it is well known that obesity rates went sky high from 1980 to 2000. Needless to say, that rate is far too significant for genetic factors to be solely responsible for the sharp obesity increase. 

It is more accurate to point out that people simply eat more calories than they need on a daily basis. Fast food restaurants that tempt people into eating more food than necessary combine forces with sit-down restaurants that often provide entrees with higher calories than what families would prepare at home. As Americans continue to spend more money on food outside the home than they do on groceries and home-cooked meals, over-consumption is more likely to be blamed for obesity increases than genetics. 

Myth: Body Mass Index (BMI) Is the Most Accurate Obesity Indicator

BMI is far from an accurate indicator of obesity. If that were so, muscle-bound bodybuilders and professional football players would be obese. In reality, though, their body fat percentage is exceptionally low, despite the high number on the scale. In practical terms, BMI is not an accurate indicator of body fat because it does not take into account the ratio between an individual's muscle and body fat.

While an extremely high BMI may indicate obesity, in general it is a better bet to focus on other tests. Most people can even look in the mirror and know whether there is weight to lose, if they are being honest. As such, heavy individuals with a good deal of muscle should avoid putting too much stock in their BMI. 

Myth: Overweight People Cannot Be Healthy

This is a tired and untrue myth. Overweight people can actually be healthier than their thin counterparts. Imagine a gaunt and rail-thin person who eats poorly and doesn't exercise, and then imagine a powerlifter. While the powerlifter may well be overweight, the fact that they commit to fitness will make them healthier than a thin person who does not exercise and eats in an unhealthy way.

Myth: Skipping Meals Will Aid Weight Loss and Overall Health

Finally, too many people trying to lose weight buy into the notion that they should skip meals for weight loss. In fact, almost the exact opposite is true. Skipping meals can often lead to overeating at a later time. Furthermore, skipping meals over a longer period of time will mess with your body's metabolism and could sabotage your weight-loss efforts.

Eating regular meals throughout the day can actually help prevent obesity, as long as those meals are properly portioned for your daily caloric needs.

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