Being 'Fat' Isn't a Death Sentence After All

thin woman overweight womanFor years, my mom has made somewhat-morbid jokes that rail-skinny types seem to get sick and die younger over chubby or even slightly obese people. I've half-rolled my eyes at her, but warnings that being overweight automatically elevates death risk have always felt oversimplified and fear-mongering to both of us. Now, finally, science is on board with that thought, too (kind of). A recent Canadian study of thousands of obese men and women over an average of 16 years found that more than one in three were perfectly healthy and had only slight health problems. They were even less likely to be killed by heart disease (whoa!) and no more likely to die than people of an "ideal weight."

Yow! Groundbreaking, huh?

I'm sure no research like this has ever really been taken seriously or publicized in a positive way, because docs are freaked out.


They think that we're going to take it as a free pass to stuff our faces with Whoppers and/or let our butts take up residence on our couches in front of hours of reality TV. Obviously, the news shouldn't be seen as an excuse to let yourself go or to not at least attempt to eat healthy and move more. But yo-yo dieting isn't smart, either. The study found people who were constantly fad dieting were less healthy than those who seemed to maintain a consistent, albeit "overweight" status. (I'm lookin' at you, Kirstie Alley!)

All I can say is thank goodness for this finding! This is concrete proof that weight and BMI -- or whatever measure you want to use to classify someone as "fat" -- aren't the only indicators of well-being. And it also sort of puts naturally thin people in their place. People who eat junk, smoke, or guzzle diet soda yet manage to maintain a "normal" -- or even below normal weight -- shouldn't automatically be considered healthy ... or healthier than someone who is technically overweight. It's about time we axe that screwed-up logic society has seemed to embrace for eons.

Overall health is broader and much more holistic than just your weight or your BMI. The takeaway here is something many women have known for a long time: The scale stinks as an absolute gauge of wellness. It's about time to THROW IT OUT.

What do you think of this study?


Image via Ted Van Pelt/Flickr

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