Don’t lose weight to get healthy.

haasAnother paper was published this week discussing the limitations to using body weight as a single indicator of health. The evidence continues to accumulate calling into question long-held beliefs about body weight and health. We’ve been taught that normal body weight equates to good health, and conversely those that are not at a normal weight, are not healthy. However, it appears that we cannot simply step on the scale to determine if we are healthy or not. It’s more complex.

Body weight and health risk

This research shows that about 10% of the obese population, is actually in better health than about 8% of the normal weight population who are at a high risk for poor health. Unfortunately, in our current society and healthcare system it is most likely that the 10% of the obese population with mild heart disease risk and normal insulin sensitivity are told to lose weight, whereas the 8% of normal weight people who are metabolically unhealthy are sent on their way without further evaluation and their risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer goes unnoticed.

Healthy, and unhealthy, at any size

I am a huge proponent of health at any size, or unhealthy at any size, it goes both ways. What you eat and how you live are the true determinants of health. Simply maintaining what society calls a normal body weight does not mean you are healthy. We all have to pay attention to our lifestyle habits in order to achieve good health.

There isn’t a perfect diet

The diet industry wants you to keep trying to lose weight. Diet products, diet books and even research studies designed to identify the “right” way of eating to lose weight are big business. In reality, there is not a perfect way of eating for us all to strive to attain. In fact an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association drew attention to this week proposing an end to the “Diet Debates”. Low-carb, high-carb, high-fat, low-fat, high-protein, etc. are not the answers for weight loss, and certainly are not the path to good health. The common thread between these diet approaches are calorie restriction, and calorie restriction does not seem to promote weight loss for the majority of US adults.

The Solution

Rather than stepping on the scale to assess your health, look at your dinner plate, your workout shoes and how you cope with stress. What messages are you sending to your body with your food and lifestyle choices? Next, get blood work drawn, even if you are “healthy”. Get the real facts from your body and the biomarkers that assess metabolic function.

What do you think? What have your experiences been with diets and losing weight? I’ll continue this discussion with more on what to do instead of trying to lose weight. And you’ll get an introduction to the first-ever Nourishing Results monthly challenge! Stay tuned!

Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.

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