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Can fat people be considered healthy?


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I've seen these 'all fat people are horrible unhealthy' comments floating around on the weight loss forums and I'm curious as to how many people agree with it. As in "Fat people probably have lower self esteem.. cause you know, they're so unhealthy," or "She did you a favor by calling you fat because you need to know that you're unhealthy" or, my favorite, "'fat healthy people' is an oxymoron."

Can someone overweight not be considered healthy? What if they have a 'healthy' body fat%, or waist circumference? What constitutes 'unhealthy'?

Person A is overweight, exercises regularly, eats maintenence calories. She asks her doctor if she should diet and based on current standards, he advises her not to lose any weight. Is she healthy?

Person B has been on CC for a year, has lost 50 lbs, changed her diet, exercises, but is still considered obese. She will continue to use CC for at least another year to reach her ideal weight. Is she healthy?

My opinion: Of course fat people can be healthy. Sheesh, really? Personally, it's offensive to change your whole lifestyle, maintain those changes, and then be told that you're 'unhealthy.' It doesn't help that the statement of lacking health tends to come after (and supposedely justify) a statement that wasn't all that nice to begin with.

Healthy is a lifestyle, not a weight.

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I'm way healthier and care way more about my health than70% of the people at my college. It makes me very angry.

I don't think it's fair at all to say that all fat people are unhealthy, because it's just not true.  I think what people usually mean is that being obese/overweight raises your risk for health problems.

Obviously not all overweight people are unhealthy. But most are. I doubt most of the overweight people you see on a daily basis are about eating healthy, exercising, etc.

I think most people who care about their bodies, by eating healthy and exercise, aren't overweight, because most of the time, a healthy weight comes with that sort of lifestyle.

And plus, if someone is technically overweight, but its because of muscle, I wouldn't consider that unhealthy.

But if there's two people, one in the overweight range, and one in a normal range, and they both exercise the same, eat about the same number of calories, well, which one would you consider healthier? I would think the person in the normal range is probably the healthier one. But then again, thats probably not a very good asumption. But still, being overweight can give you potential health problems.

It really just comes down to the individual.

Unhealthy is having a body fat percentage that is too high for your age, ethnicity, build, and genes.  Especially if that body fat is around the middle.  Over fat people can have healthy lifestyles but the extra fat still puts them at risk for certain problems.

The person isn't necessarily unhealthy, the extra poundage is.

I think the distinction you are going for is "healthy weight" versus "healthy lifestyle".  I know loads of people who are one and not the other. 

Take my sister for example.  She is maybe 5'5" and weighs like 115 pounds.  She is within the normal, healthy BMI range.  However, her lifestyle is not healthy.  She doesn't work out and she eats horribly. 

I, in my opinion, meet both requirements.  I am a healthy weight (BMI of 20.2) and I exercise and eat really well. 

I also have a really good friend who is overweight.  She does not fall into the healthy range of the BMI chart.  However, she eats well and and exercises regularly.  She would be considered to have a healthy lifestyle, but not a healthy weight.

I think the assumption that an overweight person must have an unhealthy lifestyle is kind of silly.  Unless you know a person, you have no idea what they eat or if they work out.  You don't know if they have a medical condition that makes it easy to gain weight and difficult to lose it.  I try not to make assumptions about anyone.

 

smelly: I hope you're right, but that is not typically the impression I get.

alexandra: I am certainly no goddess of optimism and tolerance, and when I see an obese person scarfing down a big mac, my first thought isn't 'I bet they eat healthy the rest of the time.' I agree that most obese persons are not leading healthy lifestyles.

However, I also assume that the vast majority of 'fat' people on CC are, or are attempting, to lead healthier lifestyles, most with the goal of weight loss. Unfortunately, weight loss is a slow process. Personally, it seems as though a website geared toward healthy weight management is an odd place to state that fat people are unhealthy, since so many here have been living healthy for some time.

Jewels: I agree. I read an interesting article recently supporting that waist circumference was actually the most reliable predictor of obesity-related health risks. The assertion being that someone who is overweight with a healthy waist circumference is actually at no increased health risks compared to normal weight individuals.

It's dumb, but it irks me a little. To be told I'm unhealthy, or read where other people are being told that here. It's not like I can be like, "oh, look at that, you're right, I think I'll wake up tomorrow skinny!" (though wouldn't that be nice :)

Many people enjoy pointing the finger at others in ridicule and it is helpful if you can reduce your point to a single visible aspect. Fat is easy to see, and it is easy to make assumptions - sometimes true and sometimes false - based upon what you see.

alexandra, you cannot assume that the fat people you see are unhealthy. You can see the fat, you do not see how they got there (steroids? over eating?) nor can you see where they were a year ago (50 pounds heavier?) nor can you know if they are eating in a way atypical for them. Does the slender person you see have an ounce of muscle? Does the slender person eat that salad in public and gorge and vomit themselves to near death in private? It is impossible to see an individual and make a determination of healthy or not based upon one known fact. That is why such blanket statements as "fat people are unhealthy" or "most fat people...." are so upsetting. They set the fat individual up in a way to require a personal lifestyle defense.

I am currently fat. Because I eat a tremendously healthy diet and exercise well, I am no longer obese. This is healthy. I had a doctor's appt yesterday and was told that all my blood work came back perfect and better than most 21 year olds. I am 54 and the number of tests was high as arthritis docs just love blood and take 4 vials from me every three months. His final comment - continue what you are doing, it's perfect.

Yes, many fat people are unhealthy. Many skinny people are unhealthy. But not all, and the reason may not be associated with their weight at all.

I don't have a whole lot of insight except for the fact that I became healthy before I became skinny.  Not the other way around.

I think that weight, per se, gets way too much energy in these forums, and in the world.  I mean, a person can be healthy, weight is just a data point.  But, many of us are here to lose weight, so it isn't really surprising that we focus on the number on the scale.

Healthy people tend to have several data points that would lead one to believe they are indeed healthy without meeting them or seeing them.  Those markers might include appropriate weight for height and age, as well as appropriate blood data (cholesterol, triglycerides, sugar, etc.), blood pressure, bone density, waist circumference, etc.

People with healthy lifestyles that include a varied diet of wholesome foods, reasonable exercise, and adequate sleep tend to appear "healthy" regardless of their adipose tissue.  They "sparkle", have lots of energy, clear skin, bright eyes.  IMO, they can truly be considered "healthy" regardless of their weight.  And usually (but not always), they will gradually settle at an appropriate weight if they maintain a healthy lifestyle.

People with unhealthy lifestyles (little exercise, poor food choices, smoking, drinking to excess, other drug use, inadequate sleep)  may be fat or thin or underweight. They usually don't "seem" healthy regardless of what weight they are currently at.

I, personally, have many of the markers of a health, even at my highest weight (morbidly obese).  But, I wasn't as healthy as I could be, and at the age of 52 was starting to have joint problems from carrying around too much weight for the past 20-odd years.  So, I am on a 2 year journey to a "normal" weight, and I expect to both look and feel better once I achieve my goal.  Heck, I already look and feel better, and I am not quite halfway there.  One of the many advantages (along with a few disadvantages, to be sure) of my age is that I really don't care how others label me.  Along with the wrinkles comes some skin-thickening!

#10  
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well not all underweight people are unhealthy so i guess not all overweight people are unhealthy. 

I agree with Minda_

I have so many friends large and small who eat atrociously when they do actually eat. I don't know anyone personally who eats as well as I do or who knows as much as I do now about how to loose weight @ this point. No one around me cares. My point is, most Americans in general have a terrible concept of healthy living, small or large, and you can't determine what someone knows, or is attempting by looking at them. And any overweight person on here is probably doing more research and learning more than everyone around them. My mom has lost close to 100 lbs, and knows more about weight loss than any of her friends, but is bigger than most of them. It would be annoying after all of her labor, to be treated like the unhealthy one.

Generally, the more overweight someone is, the more health problems they risk facing. I am a medical transcription student and much of my coursework is real-doctor dictations. The patients I type about who are on several medications, have had multiple surgeries and diagnoses - sometimes up to 20 - are usually obese. Of course there are exceptions; the older someone is, the more likely they are to have health complications, etc. 

It's true that someone who is overweight may still have a healthy waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. But it's less likely that they will than someone of a normal weight. Does this mean that all normal weight people are healthy? Of course not. But the more excess weight you are carrying, the harder it is on your joints, heart, etc. Even those who don't have any weight-related conditions may develop them over time.

I guess I don't agree with the "health at any size" concept. If you have two people who are living similar lifestyles in that they are both eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, and one of them is overweight or obese and one of them is normal weight, I believe that the normal weight person is healthier and will live longer.

There is nothing healthy about being obese [fat]. Just like there is nothing healthy about being malnourished [anorexic]. Irnoically, many, many overweight people are also malnourished.

 

#14  
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Original Post by allnaturalgirl02:

I guess I don't agree with the "health at any size" concept. If you have two people who are living similar lifestyles in that they are both eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, and one of them is overweight or obese and one of them is normal weight, I believe that the normal weight person is healthier and will live longer.

 I agree with this.  IMO if you are overweight/obese then even if you are exercising and eating right you are still unhealthy and are at risk for health problems at some point in your life as a result.  Frankly, I don't want to gamble with my life so I am trying to get to a normal weight.

I'm about 30 lbs overweight, and according to my doctor, other than an unfortunate case of MS, I am perfectly healthy. More than most people, actually...

Your dr is doing you a disservice by telling you that. Being considerably overweight is a leading cause of death. Even higher than smoking.  The good news is that  it does not have to be permanent and losing weight with healthy diet and fitness can greatly reduce you chances of dying of an obesity related illness. A VERY SMALL percentage of people have no control, on their own, over their weight due to thyroid problems but even those can be controlled through medicines such as synthroid. A female's metabolism does slow down after 40 but again that can be controled by adjusting the diet, staying active and sometimes, hormone therapy. Life is short, with the exception of stepping in front of a moving car [accidents] or getting cancer [diseases out of your control], how short really is up to you.

Original Post by fitnessgirll:

Your dr is doing you a disservice by telling you that. Being considerably overweight is a leading cause of death. Even higher than smoking.  The good news is that  it does not have to be permanent and losing weight with healthy diet and fitness can greatly reduce you chances of dying of an obesity related illness. A VERY SMALL percentage of people have no control, on their own, over their weight due to thyroid problems but even those can be controlled through medicines such as synthroid. A female's metabolism does slow down after 40 but again that can be controled by adjusting the diet, staying active and sometimes, hormone therapy. Life is short, with the exception of stepping in front of a moving car [accidents] or getting cancer [diseases out of your control], how short really is up to you.

The only way my doctor would be doing me a disservice would be if he wasn't being up front with me or encouraging/not discouraging any unhealthy habits I may have. He isn't. I know the statistics, I'm just not one of them. There's nothing wrong with me. I have absolutely ZERO ailments that are due to my weight or eating habits. In fact, according to multiple doctors (I have a few, due to my MS), I am the epitome of health. I barely even get sick....

Original Post by jannid:

alexandra, you cannot assume that the fat people you see are unhealthy. You can see the fat, you do not see how they got there (steroids? over eating?) nor can you see where they were a year ago (50 pounds heavier?) nor can you know if they are eating in a way atypical for them. Does the slender person you see have an ounce of muscle? Does the slender person eat that salad in public and gorge and vomit themselves to near death in private? It is impossible to see an individual and make a determination of healthy or not based upon one known fact. That is why such blanket statements as "fat people are unhealthy" or "most fat people...." are so upsetting. They set the fat individual up in a way to require a personal lifestyle defense..

Yes, many fat people are unhealthy. Many skinny people are unhealthy. But not all, and the reason may not be associated with their weight at all.

Yes, thats why I said it comes down to the individual. I never once said in my post that all overweight people are unhealthy. But are you saying that a large amount of overweight people are overweight because of some medical condtion? I don't know about that. I think most people become overweight/unhealthy because of overeating, emotional eating, or whatever. And of course not all of them are unhealthy, and of course some of them are trying to do something about it. The people on this website are a prime example.

I don't know the reason the overweight people I see are overweight, or underweight people are underweight. But yeah, people make assumptions sometimes. I'm guilty occasionally as well.

And I'll say it one more time. I don't think that all overweight people are unhealthy. I really don't know anything about people I just see on the street. It just comes down to the individual.

Original Post by oplleez:

Original Post by fitnessgirll:

Your dr is doing you a disservice by telling you that. Being considerably overweight is a leading cause of death. Even higher than smoking.  The good news is that  it does not have to be permanent and losing weight with healthy diet and fitness can greatly reduce you chances of dying of an obesity related illness. A VERY SMALL percentage of people have no control, on their own, over their weight due to thyroid problems but even those can be controlled through medicines such as synthroid. A female's metabolism does slow down after 40 but again that can be controled by adjusting the diet, staying active and sometimes, hormone therapy. Life is short, with the exception of stepping in front of a moving car [accidents] or getting cancer [diseases out of your control], how short really is up to you.

The only way my doctor would be doing me a disservice would be if he wasn't being up front with me or encouraging/not discouraging any unhealthy habits I may have. He isn't. I know the statistics, I'm just not one of them. There's nothing wrong with me. I have absolutely ZERO ailments that are due to my weight or eating habits. In fact, according to multiple doctors (I have a few, due to my MS), I am the epitome of health. I barely even get sick....

 That's great! But, long term, being overweight is not healthy and factually leads to enormous health issues including death. There is no way being 30 lbs overweight should be considered healthy. Your bp, cholesterol, blood sugar..etc..may all be within the healthy ranges for now but getting your weight down is essential for long term, overall health. Considering the guidelines of what healthy weight is [and it is very lenient...considering that most people that fall in the upper limits of what is still considered 'healthy' are actually overweight]...being 30 lbs over that is not a good thing. I hope I am not 'sounding' rude bc that is not my intent. How did you become overweight? Was it through being on a healthy diet and a healthy fitness routine? May be you are that rare person that eats clean, exercises and still is overweight. If that is true, then you'll need tests to determine the cause. I don't know your history so I don't want to be too specific with you...therefore, generally speaking, people that are 30 or more lbs over what is considered the healthy weight limit are definitely putting themselves at a much higher risk to serious health problems.

This really isn't a matter of opinion.  There have been many studies done on this subject and those studies have clearly shown that obese and morbidly obese people are at a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease even if they exercise and eat right.  They are at a lower risk than they would be if they didn't exercise and eat healthy, but they are at higher risk then someone at a normal weight who does not exercise and live a healthy lifestyle.  The extra pounds put a lot of stress on many parts of the body.  There is no way around that.

Weight is not so much a matter of CURRENTLY being unhealthy.  At 20 an obese person will probably have no health problems.  The question is how healthy will they be at 60?  How many more health problems will they develop over the years as a result of the extra weight?  That is what we are talking about when we talk about "healthy weight".

I am an obese CC member.  While I am healthier than I was before joining, I would be fooling myself if I thought I wouldn't be much better off healthwise if I lost that extra 50 pounds I am carrying around.  I really don't think that most obese+ people here mind hearing that.  After all, if we thought we were perfectly all right at our current weights, we wouldn't be here.

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