People come in all shapes and sizes – tall, short, fat, skinny, muscular, and so on. But in recent years, it seems like there has been a misconception about body size and health.
According to the New York Times, more people nowadays seem to believe that being overweight or fatter is something that is acceptable. There is nothing terribly wrong about a little extra weight, but when some people justify their size and do nothing about it to improve their health, that’s where things get a little complicated.
A 2010 study led by Dr. Mary A. Burke, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, found that societal norms have shifted and people are generally more accepting of what they believe to be healthy weight. Overweight men and women started to believe that they were of normal weight, and another study revealed that they were less likely to do anything to lose it.
If you’ve heard of the HAES (Health At Every Size) movement, you may have an idea about why this can be a potentially dangerous situation for some. While it is certainly fine to be a little larger than average, many people are worried. Public health experts are concerned that this gradual “fat acceptance” is a trend which may get worse if people start viewing obesity as “normal”, as the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer may rise.
But what can be done about it? Most people who are told to lose weight tend to ignore advice, believing that they’re being lied to, and that they’re perfectly healthy. Dr. Edward H. Livingston, a bariatric surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine, suggested that a more direct approach toward fitness should be taken.
“Providing patients with the false hope that if they only reduce one class of foods or another (e.g., carbohydrates or fats) they will lose weight can become frustrating, and may in part explain the failure of most diets,” said Dr. Livingston. He believes telling people to exercise instead of adjusting their dietary habits may be more effective “than continuing to advise weight loss when that message is increasingly ignored.”
This, however, is easier said than done. In another recent study, Dr. Burke also states that “individuals who do not believe they are overweight, or who view obesity in a positive light, are less likely to seek treatment for weight loss.” Nothing can change if they believe nothing is wrong.
People always say abs are made in the kitchen, and the same principle applies to weight loss. Exercise is crucial for general health, but if no changes are made regarding diet, then it may be a bigger problem than we can imagine in the near future.
By Gilbert Wong, Men’s Health Content Producer