Someone once asked me if I could tell whether someone is healthy by just looking at their size. The short answer is no. Weight is not an absolute indicator of health although it is an important factor for health. Weight has to be combined with other measures to fully assess well being.
It is common for us to associate small bodied persons with being healthy and having normal weight compared to the bigger bodied persons. I want to tell you that this can be misleading for many.
There are studies that indicate that weight is not an accurate measure for health. In one study researchers found that almost one-quarter of adults who were classified as “normal” weight, or approximately 16.3 million people nationwide, have indicators for one or more of the risks usually associated with being overweight such as elevated blood pressure or higher levels of triglycerides, blood sugar and cholesterol.
In another study researchers at UCLA and the University of Minnesota evaluated nearly two dozen studies and concluded that there was “no clear relationship between weight loss and health outcomes.” In other words, shedding pounds didn’t meaningfully lower blood pressure, diabetes risk, or cholesterol. In other words equating being heavier with having poor cardiometabolic health and being thin with the opposite is way off the mark.
What should we consider?
Adopt healthy behaviors
Weight is very important in this journey of health and should never be ignored however it alone is not indicative of health, so nobody can tell whether or not a person is healthy based on their weight solely. Healthy behaviors are more important than the number on the scale. I have seen people who are relatively big but have better fitness levels and lower cholesterol levels than their smaller counterparts. Being physically active, eating nutritious foods, and quitting smoking, socializing enough to avoid isolation, minimizing stress, and managing depression are some of the healthy behaviors that will get you thriving and living longer and not necessarily fitting in those skinny jeans.
Before you run for the slimming teas hear this
Who is guilty for looking at a big bodied person and scoffing, “She/He is so unhealthy.” and you are there feeling sorry or concerned for them? Fitness in most cases is not equal to the shape. There are many big bodied people who are very fit and the numbers that are seen on the scale do not only indicate fat. Muscle too contributes to weight therefore before you go running for the slimming teas, find out what your weight is composed of and adjust accordingly. Talk to a professional and adjust from an informed point of view.
Weight is not just the calories you take in and the ones you lose, it is more complex
Weight is so complex with so many variables involved; genes, ethnicity, medication taken, the environment where you live, mental stability, financial state, how much you sleep all play a role. Concentrating on only the caloric intake can be very misleading if the rest of the factors are not put into consideration.
Together with your healthcare provider you may want to explore all these factors before you ‘kill’ yourself.
Stay away from extremes
Much as I have emphasized that weight in itself is not an indicator for health, extremes either are not good. Being underweight or overweight will land you in a place you would rather not be. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good indicator for health and your weight together with your height will be used. Watch your weight and talk to a professional whenever you catch something off or anything gets concerning.
Weight is a contributing factor to health and cannot be ignored but we cannot use it in itself as an indicator for health. It’s no secret that both thin and fat people can develop heart-related problems but also there is a likelihood for a thin person to develop a heart related disease and a fat person does not.
Watch out for your weight but do not get depressed over it, there is more to life than the number on the scale.
See you next Wednesday.