Feeling Fat is Worse than Being Fat ?
Despite the bombardment of news articles and research papers telling us that obesity and being overweight is bad for our health, and that fatness is becoming a bit of a pandemic, we need to face the fact that we are NOT being told the WHOLE TRUTH…
We are told, constantly, that our growing waistlines are not only individual problems (rather than huge food industries and government policies), but we are also heading in a direction that is going to have huge costs to society and we should all take action to prevent otherwise.
What we are not being told though, is that fat does not mean unhealthy, and being thin does not mean healthy. We also aren’t told that FEELING FAT is probably much worse for our overall health than actually BEING FAT.
But how on earth can this be?
Being someone who was once a strong advocate for optimum nutrition and being a healthy weight, I also found this difficult to get my head around this concept at first, but now I find BMI such a useless and even harmful concept. To help you get your head around this too, lets dive in and make the picture much clearer to understand.
Firstly, the way we categorise being overweight or obese, is based on body mass index (BMI) calculations, which is simply a calculation that is results from assessing weight (in kg) in relation to a person’s height.
BMI doesn’t actually give any indication of how much fat or muscle tissue a person has in their body, and it also doesn’t consider any other key metabolic factors that give a more accurate indication of health.
These factors include measures of the types of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats in individuals’ blood, as well as markers of inflammation, insulin sensitivity (an indicator of diabetes risk) and several chronic diseases.
Measures of BMI also don’t give any indication of the types of health behaviours individuals engage in, which can play a much bigger role in a person’s overall wellbeing, such as smoking, their level of physical activity and how much and how frequently they consume alcohol.
For example, it is often the case that individuals who would be viewed as ‘thin’, have specific metabolic markers and health behaviours that would suggest poor health. Similarly, individuals who would be classified as overweight or obese have been found to have a positive indicators of health, including metabolic markers and health behaviours. However, many health-related research don’t take a collection of these factors into account - instead choosing to focus on weight or BMI.
Another important side of the coin to look at is how weight loss, and being told to lose weight, does not lead to positive wellbeing. Of course, in many cases, losing weight will contribute to less stress placed on joints and reducing the risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes. However, for many individuals, messages and eating behaviours that are based on weight loss lead to poor self-esteem and body image, as well as more individuals embarking on fad diets that lead to weight cycling.