Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Epidemic

As anyone who knows me will attest, I have strong opinions and when I am particularly excited about something, you will have a hard time shutting me up. Well I am at this moment building up anger over the matter of the, “obesity epidemic”.

I am sure you’ve heard of it. It’s all one can do to not hear about how fat is killing us, and our children and how it’s worse than the plague. Apparently fat causes diabetes and high cholesterol, and shot knees and high blood pressure and even death.

Well I disagree.

What exactly is overweight or obese? The only medical factor that determines if a person is overweight is the BMI. The BMI is an archaic tool that was invented in the 1800’s. According to the BMI, most professional athletes are overweight. Other than the BMI, we determine if a person is overweight by the medical problems they may have (diabetes, high cholesterol) or by the way they look. But can’t you have high cholesterol or diabetes and not be overweight? Yes! And can't you be medically overweight and still be extremely healthy? Yes!

We also determine if a person is overweight by what we, in our heads think is “normal”. Most people have a number. A number in their heads that they feel they should weigh. Great, that’s fine, I have a number too but I feel compelled to remind myself, and you, that we made those numbers up. We made them up in our heads based on society, our driver’s license or what we weighed in high school. It’s a made up number!

Being overweight is relative. Overweight based on what? What you used to weigh? What other people who are the same height as you weigh? Or what you think you should weigh?

There are a million unhealthy “thin” people and there are a million healthy “overweight” people. The real epidemic is un-health not over-fat. Unhealthy is not synonymous with overweight.

It sucks when a 7 yr. old kid gets winded walking to school. But what’s the problem? It’s not fat. It’s health. That child needs exercise not a society telling them the way they look might kill them someday. It is so much easier to add something good than to take away something “bad”. Add exercise because it boosts our mood and lowers our blood pressure. Add green vegetables because they keep our heart healthy. Add whole grains because our brain needs them.

I am not sure what I hope to change with this article. I suppose I am hoping you will think about it next time you hear a news story about “the epidemic” or have your BMI measured or judge someone on the bus. Or worst of all judge yourself. Strive for health. Not un-fat.