Fat AND healthy - is it possible?

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Wagimawr

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Really, truly, honestly. Is it possible for a human being to be overweight (pick a size, any size) and still be perfectly healthy? [That said, is it possible for ANYBODY to be "perfectly healthy"?]

This question seems to come up, time and time again, and it's something that the size acceptance community needs to investigate, if they haven't already (which I assume many involved in the community have, based on the discussion of health issues and the call for the health board here, and many of NAAFA's statements on their own site).

my thoughts, from my post on another SA community I frequent:
We're still learning about fat as well, and in a society where the medical industry and the pharmaceutical industry are so closely linked, it's perfectly alright to be a little suspicious of the medical community.

What we do know is that staying active and making good choices are good things to do, WHETHER OR NOT it results in weight loss - I absolutely believe that it's possibile to be overweight and never develop health problems, just as it's possible to be slim and have more healthy problems then you can count - you have to look at lifestyle, choices, genetics, so many things before you can conclude that being fat is absolutely bad for you.

Right?
This was posted in a thread that revolved around the discussion of whether or not it's possible to be overweight without having health problems, and without disrespecting the privacy of the other posters, the consensus seemed to be that being bigger isn't good for you, and you can absolutely be healthier (i.e., not overweight) if you want.

I've come across that line of reasoning in my own home, as well - my last girlfriend was most definitely a BBW, and when she visited, my mother, a RN since the 1970s, was pretty immediately up in arms about it, partly for other issues, but the health issue came up, and her position on it is, essentially, "fat is bad for you, and it's also fixable, no matter the reason, whether it's overeating for any reason, any medical condition, or just plain laziness".

Now, I've been on Dims for years, soaking up the size acceptance community and taking in everything the wonderful people here have to say, and I've always believed that it's absolutely okay to be fat, but: To hear such anti-fat rhetoric come from inside my own home (primarily from my mother; my father had other concerns more related to my own situation) was a frightening thing, and I've wanted to make this thread for some time to in some way respond, but haven't figured out quite the way to do it.

I'm not in the medical profession and have no desire to enter into it, nor do I have time to delve into medical journals and go digging for studies just to combat things I hear from home (although it was and still remains sorely tempting). I'm also well aware that the answer to the question may be "it depends". As a FA, that's a slightly less than joyous thought, but it may be the truth of the matter. To quote Brian Wilson, "I know there's an answer", but I still don't know what it is, and am honestly wondering if anybody else does either.
 

LoveBHMS

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One thing I have to say is NOT the answer is the whole idea that "thin people get health problems too." Sure it's true, but it's not the right perspective. It's like pointing out that since non-smokers get lung cancer, smoking is really ok for you. It's not. The fact that non-smokers can get lung cancer does not mean that smoking does not cause it or greatly increase your risk.

There is surely a bell curve of human bodies/body types. I am sure some bodies are naturally 80 pounds and so some of them must naturally be 250 pounds. OTOH, if you weigh 80 pounds because you starve yourself or weigh 250 because you eat at McDonalds every meal, it is not relevent that "some people are just bigger or smaller."

I'm sure that lifestyle and lifestyle choices go a lot further towards being health indicators than size. But size may be a function of lifestyle choices and thus more a sympton than a cause of health isssues or lack of them.
 

Dr. Feelgood

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I'm feeling generous today, so I'll give you two answers for the price of one. Choose between:

1. No, it is not possible for anyone who is overweight to be healthy: the very term 'overweight' carries the implication that something is wrong.*

2. What do you mean by 'healthy'? Resistance to disease? Can anyone who has, for example, migraines be considered healthy? What about mental health? Is a schizophrenic with a BMI of 22 healthy? And then there's aerobic health and metabolic health, both of which can be developed by people of various sizes and shapes. To draw a parallel between language and math (which is, of course, a language of its own), 'health' is not a constant: it's a variable, and everyone plugs a different value into it.

*which is why I don't like the word
 

pani

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No offense, but I am shocked anyone would ask this question. OF COURSE it is possible for someone to be fat and healthy! There are countless numbers of fat people who live long healthy lives and never develop any disease associated with obesity. Despite Pharma's marketing, obesity ITSELF is not a disease. It is a risk factor. That means if you take a group of thin people and a group of fat people, there might be more fat people who develop a particular disease like diabetes. Still, there will be many fat people who never get it and many thin people who do. Such studies are the basis of the fat is unhealthy argument. That is what the studies all say. There is no study that has found EVERY fat person to be unhealthy. Anyone who says otherwise does not understand how research is done. Sadly, there are plenty in the health profession who don't even know what these theories are based on. It is not uncommon for doctors to tell their fat patients they WILL get premature heart disease or diabetes or whatever. Thus the patient usually panics, tries some risky weight loss practice, and damages their health much more than if they had accepted their body. Really the medical profession probably kills more fat people than all the junk food in the world.

I would suggest you read The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos, Big Fat Lies by Gaessar, or take a look at Sandy Swarc's junk food science.
 

TallFatSue

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Despite Pharma's marketing, obesity ITSELF is not a disease. It is a risk factor.
Exactly. Obesity has certain health risks, but they can be managed. What burns me up are all those commercials or news flashes that would have us believe that obesity is the ONLY health risk. Grrrrr. :mad:

All things being equal, I'd probably be better off without a few hundred pounds of body fat bouncing around. But all things are rarely equal. Methinx having a positive attitude more than outweighs that particular risk factor anyway. By accepting and even embracing my size, my overall quality of life is pretty darn good, so I'm a generally happy person. So even if obesity itself is a negative, the fringe benefits it gives me are double positive, so I'm probably ahead in the long run. If obesity is my worst problem in life, then I am one lucky woman. :D
 

Waxwing

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To some degree it is, yes, but the body will always be subject to physical stresses it wouldn't otherwise. Like Tall Fat Sue said, there are health risks which have to be managed.

We know that extra body weight places more pressure on the joints, on the organs, on the cardiovascular system. We know all of this. We know that an increase in weight is associated with greater risk of a whole host of diseases.

But. So are lots of things.

It's like asking if you can be healthy if you drink, or if you smoke a cigar sometimes, or go out in the sun. Many things we do negatively impact our health, but that doesn't mean we can't remain relatively healthy while doing them.

Saying that obesity poses no risks is dangerous because it can lead us to ignore ways in which we could make our lives better. Saying it's a death sentence is equally ridiculous, because there is no one factor that determines these things.

We have to be as healthy as we can in the bodies we have.
 

Jon Blaze

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What everyone basically said. Lifestyle is a much better predictor of overall health in all cases. The media is losing touch with this. There are few studies on obesity that take in factors like: Socioeconomic class/Poverty level, LIFESTYLE (Diet, exercise, sleep, stress, and more), family history, previous lifestyle (i.e. Yo yo dieters? Yea, they commonly put them in as people in the statistics without putting that in), medications taken, and more. Those matter, and the totality of them are much greater at determining health than just bodyweight. It's not a good proxy of health without the other factors.

And as Sue, LoveBHMS, and Pani have said: It's a risk factor, NOT A DISEASE. It can also be a symptom of any number of things, or not even. But I can't go up to random fat person xyz, and know about how they live. There's no point. I can't know, just as I can't know how a thin person lives just by looking at them.

If you look at all the risk factors for something like atherosclerosis, there's a couple hundred. Your local medical office might list at the LEAST, forty different risk factors. Don't just look at one now, if you want to be watchful.

Someone at Katehardings blog left a comment (Verbatim). She said she had a friend, who fed her child fast food everyday. They were both thin. Now I'm not committing what LoveBHMS just said, but in our society: that family can get by without a word unless someone is meticulously watching everything they eat (And hell they might just say JUST DON'T GET FAT OMG!). There's something very wrong with that. Horribly wrong. People think they can know. Doctors, pedestrians, and more think they can judge, and there's a gap that keeps extending. Weight has become a moral issue, and it is objectively determined.

Right now, I'm in a bit of a grace period with the "Health" side of things. I do recognize it as a risk factor, but every body type has its risks, and we don't have the right numbers from what I've seen. Though it isn't often said (And this "Paradox" is relatively new), the people with bmis in the "Overweight" range have the lowest mortality overall. In fact, they're the sole reason for the freak instant -86000 deaths attributed to obesity statistic. It's all them. They're just too darn healthy. lol

I'm seeing the "Reverse" J with mortality a lot too, so the highest risk is actually for underweight. Once again, not trying to attack anybody (Except for the media ;) ), but I think if that's the case, then both of these "Conditions" (If you want to call them that) should be covered JUST AS OFTEN as each other in the media, and in the same manner. The underweight do receive discrimination, and they are generalized as having eating disorders often, but if someone thinks they have problem, and they're rational: Normally they'll be respectful about it. "You need help." The media is the same way. Unless it's about eating disorders, the risks are rarely ever covered.

But obesity? It KILLED THE DINOSAURS (Kidding lol), causes global warming, strains our healthcare*, ITZ ALWAYS UR FAULT lol, It's a sin, It encourages children to overeat, It's the ONLY risk factor for heart disease you have to worry about, it's NEVER genetic at all, and to top it off: It's unattractive. The last one is a big reason for it.

The obesitymyths pdf is getting dated, but if they really went deep with the risk determination (There were some doctors that contributed...[One even said "Maybe we're not having an obesity epidemic, but an inactivity epidemic"]): The relative risk with high activity levels is 1.1 (Overweight and Obese) to 1 (Thin). The numbers didn't go up enough to round up, so they had to go down to 1.1 for both. This is only exclusive to those that are active, but for inactivity in all of them the risks were 2.2 (Thin and unfit), 2.5 (Overweight and unfit), and 3.1 (Obese and unfit) respectively.

The two biggest determinants of all cause mortality for fat people are lifestyle and low cardiovascular endurance. Emphasis on the latter.

If we identify this as a problem, then we have to go in a different direction. The negative feedback, shaming, generalizations, and the like are not helping. And the fact that in the US that our food sucks, our economy is horrible, and more: We are not helping correctly. Body image is getting worse, and we're just getting worse with it.

So yes: I think it's possible, but I think weight should be taken out of the equation (In the general scheme of things). It's a lot less about what you weigh, and a lot more about what you do. One should consider it to be a risk factor, but if it's the only thing one worries about: That is a no-no. lol


*(And yes we found it cost less. Oh, and hypochondriasis? It costs us money, just like sports injuries, and eating disorders...)
 

Chubbyadmirer86

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It's hard to add much to the great responses above. However I personally think that genetics plays the biggest role. If you're genetically predisposed to health problems such as high blood pressure, for example, than you'll prolly not be fat and healthy. That said I can't ignore the effect of lifestyle. Still, I think that genetics plays a larger role.
 

olwen

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:::sigh::: It's not possible for anyone to live without health problems. Period. Everyone in their lives will come upon something that will affect their health whether those problems are genetic diseases, contagious diseases, or diseases brought upon by bad choices - whatever they are, or diseases of old age. It's ridiculous for medical professionals to lump every fat person into one category without looking at lifestyle, education, and economic status, otherwise, why take someone's medical history when doing an examination? It's the quality of that examination that's the sticky point. So of course it's possible to be healthy and fat. It's also possible to be unhealthy and fat and unhealthy and thin and healthy and thin. But you should take the time to really investigate the issue if this is something you're thinking deeply about. It would give you more perspective.

Food for thought: Once upon a time women were taught that they were inherently mentally and physically weak and inherently unhealthy. Every cure for middle and upper class women involved bed rest. "Oh you don't want to stay home and be a housewife or you want to have intellectual persuits, then there must be something wrong with you. You need 2 months of bed rest," was the way doctors diagnosed "women's" problems. Working class and poor women were deemed incurable or rather, unworthy of care mainly because they couldn't afford to see a doctor. Sounds ridiculous no?
 

Fascinita

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:::sigh::: It's not possible for anyone to live without health problems. Period. Everyone in their lives will come upon something that will affect their health whether those problems are genetic diseases, contagious diseases, or diseases brought upon by bad choices - whatever they are, or diseases of old age. It's ridiculous for medical professionals to lump every fat person into one category without looking at lifestyle, education, and economic status, otherwise, why take someone's medical history when doing an examination? It's the quality of that examination that's the sticky point. So of course it's possible to be healthy and fat. It's also possible to be unhealthy and fat and unhealthy and thin and healthy and thin. But you should take the time to really investigate the issue if this is something you're thinking deeply about. It would give you more perspective.

Food for thought: Once upon a time women were taught that they were inherently mentally and physically weak and inherently unhealthy. Every cure for middle and upper class women involved bed rest. "Oh you don't want to stay home and be a housewife or you want to have intellectual persuits, then there must be something wrong with you. You need 2 months of bed rest," was the way doctors diagnosed "women's" problems. Working class and poor women were deemed incurable or rather, unworthy of care mainly because they couldn't afford to see a doctor. Sounds ridiculous no?
I rarely do this, but I must step forward to say, "Someone please rep this woman for me!" This post is so very, very smart.

Many so-called diseases, and most diseases to some extent, are socially constructed. The epidemic of inconvenient overactive children, to wit. Disease must be understood as a social construct, not simply as a set of definitions supported by scientific research. Consider the many actors and factors involved in the diagnostics and management of disease--doctors, scientists, government agencies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, social workers, educators, families, activist groups, etc.

Thanks, olwen, for making some important points.
 

olwen

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YW. Thank you. Yes, exactly what you said Fascinita. Doctors and researchers are people too with their own biases, values, and opinions. They can collect all the data they want but how they interpret and apply the data is what matters most. 100 years from now, medical historians will go back and look at the data again and have the benefit of historical context to help them reinterpret that data. They may make the same interpretations or they may not. Only time will tell.
 

Shosh

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I believe that it could well be possible for some people to be fat and remain healthy. It would depend on the individual. Some people would be prone to developing health conditions and complications possibly with regards to their weight due to how their own body would respond to the added burden that the weight can apply and their genetics etc.

I have to say that I was developing complications at my heaviest weight of 300 pounds. My legs and feet ached all the time, I found it hard to get up off the floor etc etc. Many other things too.

I also have a neurological condition too which made it even harder.
But having said that some people have no such problems.

Does that make sense?

Hope you are well Jason meanwhile.

Shoshie
 

tonynyc

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I believe that it could well be possible for some people to be fat and remain healthy. It would depend on the individual. Some people would be prone to developing health conditions and complications possibly with regards to their weight due to how their own body would respond to the added burden that the weight can apply and their genetics etc.

I have to say that I was developing complications at my heaviest weight of 300 pounds. My legs and feet ached all the time, I found it hard to get up off the floor etc etc. Many other things too.

I also have a neurological condition too which made it even harder.
But having said that some people have no such problems.

Does that make sense?

Hope you are well Jason meanwhile.

Shoshie
Hi Shoshie:

Hope you are feeling better....

I think well all need good health, the luck of Winston Churchill and the blessing of our faith/beliefs to pull us through the toughest health issues that we all face (heck there is even health problems in being thin) .
 

ThikJerseyChik

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I just had bloodwork done (usually every year). I will quote my doc.

"For a middle aged fat chick, you have the bloodwork of a teenager!" :) :) :)

'Nuff said!
 

RevolOggerp

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I've always wondered if anyone could really be in "perfect health". What defines perfect health? Everyone is different. I'm big-boned. People look at me and think that I'm 200 to 225 lbs, but I'm 350 lbs. I consider myself "big" instead of "fat".

When I read health books, all the information in them points to me as being severely obese... but some people in the gym tell me that I'm just "overweight" and not "obese".

So, what is what? :(
 

Waxwing

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I've always wondered if anyone could really be in "perfect health". What defines perfect health? Everyone is different.
This is definitely true. There are also a thousand different interpretations of what is "healthy". For some, "healthy" might mean that they have no outstanding medical problems. For others that means they can run a marathon. Those are two radically different things.

I think that you make your own definition of "health", as well as of "fitness", as it relates to your life and your desires. If YOU feel good and can do what YOU want in your life, you're healthy.

I may want to climb Mt. Everest and you may think that's absurd. You may want to run 40 miles and I may think you're insane. The surgeon general can't necessarily tell each of us what is healthy and what is fit for each one of us.
 

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