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I don’t like the word “fat” as an adjective. It’s fine as a noun. There are a lot of negative meanings that go along with describing a person as fat. Alternatively, “skinny” is mainly used as a compliment. But a skinny body is not always a healthy body! Here’s a comment I posted on the my facebook page a few weeks ago:
I had a follower who commented that she had lots of people say they wish they were thin like her. She is a cancer survivor who has an awesome attitude. She has been through many surgeries and eating issues, from feeding tubes, to supplement drinks. Her response to people who say that: “Really?!! You sure about that?!!“. (… at least that’s what she wants to say!)
For her, putting on weight is a challenge, and one that she probably wishes she didn’t have to spend so much time working on!
Skinny is Not the Only Healthy Body Type
Yes, skinny is A body type. But it does not hold the monopoly on healthy. And many skinny people are not healthy! Just because someone is skinny doesn’t tell you their body composition. They could be mostly fat, or mostly muscle. They could be weak, or strong. They could be not eating because of stress, or depression, or illness.
I’ve known people to “get skinny” when they were going through a personal crisis. To me, someone becoming skinny can be a red flag that something isn’t going so great.
So let’s talk about other body types.
- Banana – This is the typically skinny body type. Pretty thin all around!
- Pear – This is the body type that carries extra weight in the hips. More women than men have this body type.
- Apple – This is the body type that has thin legs and carries extra weight in the mid section. More men than women have this body type
You’ve probably heard of the “pear vs. apple” where experts have found better health in people with pear shape over people with apple shape. This is mainly because the apples tend to carry any excess fat in the mid section around their organs, where the pear shape carries any excess fat on their hips.
At any rate, the point is that there are many different healthy body types!
That raises the question.
Can You Be Overweight or Obese and Fit?
Everyone knows that being overweight or obese raises your risk for disease. There are certain cancers that have been shown to be at higher risk in people who are overweight.
But there are some overweight or obese individuals who are careful to eat a health promoting diet and get regular physical activity. They have healthy cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Are they healthy?
Much of the previous research has answered that question pretty clearly. No. But according to an article in the January 2012 issue of the Environmental Nutrition Newsletter, a recent study actually found that overweight, high-fitness (determined by exercise testing) participants had a much lower risk of dying compared with normal-weight, low-fitness subjects. Yes, it determined that the overweight participants were actually healthier than the normal-weight participants!
For now, there’s not enough evidence to support the idea that everyone could be obese and have good quality of life and lower disease risk. But, no matter what, we all should be making choices to promote a healthy and fit body! That means:
- Eating a mostly plant-based diet.
- Exercising at least 30 minutes each day. That’s 10,000 steps, if you use a pedometer.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Get regular check ups with your doctor.
From now on, let’s start complimenting people for their healthy behaviors, not how their body appears from the outside!