No Matter Your Size, It Is Time to Get Fit
Last December, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that over the last twelve years, death rates among 2,600 adults 60 and older were slightly lower in overweight individuals than in normal weight adults.
By Kathryn S
Wait, what? Isn’t obesity a major health concern?
Actually, the New York Times reports that “despite concerns about an obesity epidemic, there is growing evidence that our obsession about weight as a primary measure of health may be misguided.”
It seems that medical research is taking a different path down the road of health, obesity, and weight loss studies. In fact, the Archives of Internal Medicine, as referenced in the Times suggests that half of overweight people and one third of obese people are actually “metabolically healthy.”
America’s obsession with beauty and looks has long stereotyped overweight people in a negative light. However, studies such as those mentioned above are proving that in many cases, thin or underweight people are in poorer health than those with a few excess pounds. The Journal of the American Medical Association conducted fitness tests and observed mortality rates of their subjects, and discovered that “fitness level, regardless of body mass index, was the strongest predictor of mortality risk.” Therefore, skinny people blessed with a fast metabolism will still find working out to be advantageous to their health, and “big boned” individuals should not be written off as being “lazy” or “sluggish,” as stereotypes suggest.
While findings from studies covering moderate weight issues are drawing new lines between “healthy” and “unhealthy,” ironically, one of the world’s greatest medical mysteries remains the issue of morbid obesity. ABC News reports that the morbidly obese Manuel Uribe, the one-time world’s heaviest man who is now trying to break the world record for weight loss, is in good health despite his enormous weight.
“I have accumulated fat,” Manuel has stated (an understatement, in my opinion), “but I’m healthy. I don’t have sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, diabetes or high blood pressure. My heart works perfectly fine.”
Uribe’s doctor agrees and notes, “We don’t have an explanation.” This type of morbid obesity is extreme, but can be triggered by brain chemistry, genetic mutation, or a combination of psychological issues, which is why it is so baffling to doctors and scientists.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, anorexia nervosa can cause heart problems such as palpitations (or even failure), and bulimia nervosa can cause irregular heart beat or rupturing of the stomach, along with a slew of other complications.
The bottom line, according to University of South Carolina professor Stephen Blair, is that doctors should be talking to all patients about the value of physical activity, regardless of body size.
Blair raises an excellent question in the Times article:
“Why is it such a stretch of the imagination to consider that someone overweight or obese might actually be healthy and fit?”