You hear it all the time: Maintain a low weight and you greatly reduce your risk for health problems, improve your quality of life and avoid an early death.
While authorities like the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control tell you to eat less, exercise more and lose that extra weight, Linda Bacon says not so fast.
The professor of nutrition at the City College of San Francisco and author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, took to Discover Magazine to offer a different view from what we normally hear.
Her take: “Weight is a baseless measure for health, and weight loss a counterproductive goal.” Yep, she said what we’ve all been waiting to hear for a long time.
According to Bacon, there are two big myths around the weight loss and national obesity issues: That overweight people die early, and dieting is a solution to weight gain. She also thinks the often touted alternative approaches to weight loss should be given up, since they do more harm than good.
Bacon explains the CDC has found that individuals in the overweight category actually live the longest as compared to those who have lower numbers on the scale. Furthermore, Americans are living longer now than they did a few decades ago when obesity levels were lower. To be more specific, by 2007 our life expectancy had reached 77.9 years of age as opposed to 70.8 in 1970.
So what gives? Bacon believes it isn’t all black-and-white – The weight and disease relationship doesn’t hold up when we look at other factors such as an individual’s socioeconomic status, activity level, nutrition, and dieting history, all of which play a role in a person’s health. In other words, obesity doesn’t guarantee an early death and your weight isn’t an always an accurate indicator of your health.
So what about dieting? We all know the weight comes back, and many studies have confirmed this to be the case. The bigger factor here is our own biological makeup, which can prevent us from keeping the weight off permanently. So we can kick the strict dieting idea out the door.
For those who resort to extreme measures such as surgeries or other insane weight loss trends like body wraps, Bacon says these alternative approaches have been shown to lead to alcoholism, heart problems and even suicide. Yikes!
Perhaps Bacon’s strongest point in her piece: Instead of leading to happier and healthier people, the national obsession with weight loss and doom-and-gloom talk about obesity has done the opposite and resulted in a population that’s preoccupied with weight and wracked with eating disorders, stress and paranoia.
Now that our mind has been blown and everything we thought about weight loss and obesity has been turned on its head, the obvious question is what should we do?
“Dump the weight focus. Dispense with food rules and calorie restrictions. Tune in to the body’s natural hunger signals, and relearn which foods are satisfying. Move in ways that feel good” says Bacon, adding that our health, mental well being and self-esteem will benefit a lot more with this approach than any of the more aggressive measures we’ve taken in the past.
Seems like sound advice to us.
Feature Image: Channel4.com
In-post Image: bodylovewellness.com