There’s been a lot of controversy about whether or not weight should be the only thing that matters when it comes to people’s health. While some say that fat-shaming isn’t helpful and that you can be healthy at any size, others believe that you should never feel comfortable being unhealthy and that you should work to shed pounds even if it means losing muscle mass in the process.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether or not weight does truly equal health, and what your healthcare providers can do to help you become healthier with or without gaining weight.
Weight does not equal health
It’s a simple fact that anyone can gain weight, but it doesn’t mean they are healthy. If you’re overweight or obese, losing even 10 pounds can improve your health.
A healthy lifestyle is made up of many different factors, including not just what and how much we eat, but also how active we are and whether we have a mental outlook that promotes overall well-being. Put these things together and physical activity is one of your best bets for living longer – no matter what size you are.
Not all fats are bad
Take fish oil supplements; they’re full of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. Make sure you’re getting enough omega-3s: Shoot for at least two servings of fish a week or take an omega-3 supplement.
Fats should make up 20 percent of your daily caloric intake. A good guideline is that every gram of fat provides nine calories, so divide your total calorie intake by nine, and that’s how many grams of fat you should consume. That means for every 1,000 calories, 180 of them should come from fat.
Health does not equal weight loss
Most people focus on weight when they’re trying to figure out if they’re healthy or not. The truth is that being overweight or underweight are not always a sign of poor health. For example, some athletes and bodybuilders have higher than average muscle mass and therefore have a greater BMI than others who might be more normal-sized.
Health is made up of several different factors, not just your weight. How much water and other nutrients your body has, your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, how active you are and whether or not you’re eating a balanced diet all affect how healthy or unhealthy you might be.
In addition to keeping an eye on BMI, it’s important to monitor these health indicators as well when deciding if weight loss is necessary.
Fit vs Unfit
Weight isn’t everything. Weighing too much is unhealthy, but what about being overweight and fit? These individuals have a lower risk of heart disease than those who are normal weight and unfit. Let’s take a closer look at how weight plays into overall healthiness.
Being overweight doesn’t always mean that you are at a greater risk of health problems. Some people have a high body fat percentage but exercise and eat well so they don’t have additional health risks.
To prove it, researchers from Ohio State University studied close to 1,000 adults from 18-40 years old and found that even after adjusting for sex, age, race/ethnicity and income level; being obese was associated with low overall mortality.
Macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat) do matter
Macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein and fat, all play an important role in your health. But weight is not directly correlated with health. The key here is that weight does not equal overall health.
It’s certainly possible to be overweight or obese and have good cholesterol, low blood pressure and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes—all markers of being healthy. Instead of focusing on your size or weight, focus on having a balanced diet.
And don’t forget fiber. Soluble fiber, found in beans, whole grains and some fruits and vegetables, may lower cholesterol by binding with bile acids that carry cholesterol through your digestive tract—and out of your body. Fiber also keeps you feeling full longer so that you can control how much food you eat at a meal.
One of my doctors once said that a person’s weight isn’t necessarily equal to their overall health. While being overweight and/or obese is one indicator of how fit you are, body composition also plays a role in your overall health.
Body composition refers to how much of your body is made up of lean muscle mass and fat tissue (compared with water). So what does it mean if we talk about these things? How do they relate to health issues and overall fitness level?
Our cultural relationship with food and our bodies
An over-emphasis on a person’s weight can detract from looking at other factors that affect health. Such as a person’s exercise habits, sleep quality, and diet. Weight doesn’t equal wellness.
So it’s important not to assume someone is unhealthy just because they weigh more than you do. You could even say weight doesn’t equal anything—it isn’t even related to health or well-being in any way!
There are so many other factors that weigh in when it comes to your health, and for most people, being heavier isn’t going to make a huge difference. So when considering how happy or healthy you are, don’t forget about all of your other qualities as well.