The obesity epidemic is real and has been for the last twenty-five years. Now it is spreading well outside the boundaries of developed nations. It brings along health concerns: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and destroyed knee joints. There have been strong and concerted attempts to cure this epidemic and promote the image of a healthy, non-obese human body. But is becoming skinny at all costs the right answer?
Skinny or normal weight individuals who workout almost daily and eat right can also be suffering poor health. It is not unusual for normal or low to normal weight individuals, to have a very high LDL (the bad cholesterol) or high blood pressure. These conditions depend on heredity and aging as much as they do on lifestyle. Unfortunately, a great body is easier to see and detect than high LDL or high blood pressure. If one or both of those conditions has been a problem for years and goes undetected, it could destroy arteries and hearts beyond repair. Furthermore, many health conscious individuals who are thin, fit and eat healthy, have strong convictions against taking anything that is not natural; they are among the hardest to persuade that a pill might be medically necessary for them.
Muscular individuals may not appear skinny but are certainly healthy. If their muscle comes without belly fat, they are doubly healthy. First, they are spared of the toxic effects of belly fat. Second, muscle is metabolically wonderful. It will burn calories even when we are asleep and suck in excess fatty acids and blood sugar. Third, muscle is essential for exercise and later in life, for simply staying functional and able to walk. One caveat: lifting very heavy weights may raise the blood pressure to unsafe high levels and can destroy our aorta and heart, thus it is not recommended.
There are several conditions that can be even more destructive to our health than obesity.
Smoking is number one. The use of tobacco products, in any way or form, can destroy our arteries and cause heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and an assortment of cancers. Smoking can cause you to stop breathing, due to emphysema. This is irreversible. Since smoking reduces appetite, it is not unusual for smokers to have great figures. If these smokers could only see their insides. The ragged terrain of their arteries and their cancer cells in the making are not a trade off for a shapely body!
Trying to become skinny is not the “end all be all”. We know there are negative health consequences of anorexia and an extremely low body weight (a BMI below 18.5 or a waist circumference below 29 inches for men or 25 for women). In an all- out- war against the obesity epidemic and the ravages that come with it, we should see optimal body weight in the right perspective: desirable. Skinny is neither an absolute guarantee of health nor a goal in itself to be conquered at any cost or through any means. To your Health!