Is weight loss a crucial health objective?

Although giving up dieting and accepting your body as it is may seem amazing, may doing so be harmful to your health?


Smaller bodies are healthier, and larger bodies must be unhealthy, according to advertisements, popular culture, and even some medical professionals.

Jeanette Thompson-Wessen, a nutritionist in the United Kingdom whose approach doesn't focus on weight loss, remarked that neither health nor bodies are that straightforward and standard, and health might differ from person to person.

According to Philipp Scherer, professor of internal medicine and director of the Touchstone Diabetes Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, a higher body mass index (BMI) is linked to diseases including diabetes and heart disease. However, according to Dr. Asher Larmie, a general practitioner and activist based in the UK, BMI is a contentious method for assessing health and is only one of several indicators connected to changes in a person's well-being.

According to Healthy People 2020 by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the majority of the elements affecting our health include medical treatment, the environment, social situations, and biology.

However, Shana Minei Spence, a registered dietitian in New York, noted that when evaluating someone's health, we frequently give their appearance a lot of weight. A person may find it challenging to feel confident in their body if they believe their size to be unhealthy, even if we learn to let go of the burden of social beauty standards.

According to experts, it may be time to separate the concepts of health and weight and put more emphasis on actions that advance our health rather than the number on the scale.

Causation vs correlation

It's crucial to realize that the research showing poorer health outcomes for those with higher body fat can only show correlation, not cause and effect, according to Larmie.

Although studies have shown that overweight individuals frequently have higher rates of cardiac disease, they cannot conclusively link weight to the condition, said Larmie.

However, Scherer argued that the significance of those findings shouldn't be undervalued. Strong correlations exist, and according to him, "from a physiological standpoint, we work with correlations in the clinic."

However, Scherer noted that other elements, like as access to healthcare, might still be in play.

Additionally, access to quality medical care may be difficult for those with larger frames, according to Bri Campos, a body image consultant based in Paramus, New Jersey.

Not just her clients are afraid of visiting the doctor. Campos added that she often avoids going to the doctor for fear of being shamed over her weight, despite the fact that she educates people on their body image and mental health.

Campos replied, "I can go in for strep throat, I can go in for a rash.

Due to my size, it is quite unlikely that I will visit a doctor and receive a real diagnosis other than "you should definitely reduce weight."

A body is not a business card.

Spence frequently reminds her clients that bodies aren't used as calling cards.

She claimed that it is impossible to determine someone's biology, habits, or state of health just by looking at their physical appearance.

"Do you have someone's medical records available to you? Do we consult their physician? "She spoke. "Furthermore, our ability to control our health is not always possible. There are numerous chronic conditions that folks merely get."

On a broad scale, there are relationships between body size and health concerns, but when researchers focus on specific individuals, the picture is less clear, according to Scherer.

The idea that not everyone with a very high BMI is also type 2 diabetic is one that the field as a whole fully supports, he said.


Heart disease and diabetes can strike those with smaller frames, and there are lots of people with larger frames who are thought to have perfect metabolic health, according to Scherer.

He continued, "It's basically a reflection of our genetic diversity and how we handle too many calories.

Do diets improve our health?

What exactly does being healthy entail? Can dieting assist you in achieving this?

Depending on what aspects of health you value.

The components of health are numerous. One is avoiding disease, but others include preserving mental health, keeping social networks active, getting enough rest, and lowering stress, according to Spence.

If calorie restriction or food elimination has a bad effect on your mental health or prevents you from spending time with friends and family, she warned, it may not be generally beneficial. And occasionally those limitations can cause you to lose weight without giving your body the nutrients it needs.

Spence stated that losing weight "doesn't equal happiness" and "doesn't imply you'll necessarily become well" because the methods used to lose weight "may also be harmful to your health."

Restrictive diets to reduce weight typically doesn't work for people. A 2018 study found that more than 80% of persons who lost weight got it back within five years.

Most people wouldn't use their phones anymore, according to Campos, if they didn't frequently operate as intended.

"However, diet culture has done a great job of convincing us that we can achieve our every desire. You'll gain fitness, good health, and admiration "Added she.

If not weight loss, what should we concentrate on if we want to get healthier? Focus on healthy habits like stopping smoking, getting more exercise, getting better sleep, managing your stress, and eating the things your body tells you it needs, advised Larmie.

The result may be weight loss, but that isn't the intended outcome, they continued.

According to Thompson-Wessen, "by not focusing on the weight, that means we can really focus on some really good behaviors which are lot more durable."


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