everybody knows

Everybody KNOWS…right?

The phrase “everybody knows” usually means everybody ASSUMES something is true because they have heard it from so many others and have heard it repeated so often.  Rarely do we check these things out.

(BTW-isn’t that the definition of propaganda-repeating something often enough so that it is believed to be true?  Yikes, that should make you stop and think, right?)

But its easy to do-we are busy, our sources seem trustworthy and well-intentioned. (here is a spoiler alert-that doesn’t make them right!)  And when something seems to make SENSE-well it’s easy to believe!

My question today: Is high weight (BMI > 25) a cause of bad health?  We do know that high weight (overweight or obesity) is associated with lots of bad health outcomes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes (type 2 especially)
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Poorer covid outcomes were reported in those who were obese.

The tricky bit here is this-what makes you fat also makes you sick.

Poor socio-economic status

  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Genetic influence
  • Environment
  • Stress
  • Poor sleep
  • Weight cycling (yo-yo-ing up and down with your weight)

There is a lot of evidence that the culprit in sickness (morbidity) or dying (mortality) is not in the number on the scale, but a combination of many things.  (back to the “no magic pill or potion reminder here)

  • NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Exam) in 1998 showed a “BMI of minimum mortality” (lowest death rate) of 25 for white Americans and 27 for African Americans. (what we classify as overweight).
  • 2005 data confirmed this again with highest mortality (greatest risk of death) at BMI less than 18.5 and greater than 40.
  • In 2016 another study identified the BMI of minimum mortality at 27.
  • March 2023, an article in the journal Nature showed that greater risk for all cause and cardiovascular mortality in the elderly at lower BMI (less than 21) levels and BMI in the 25-30 (overweight) range was somewhat protective.  This study saw no bmi effect on cancer risk.
  • On October 2023 study in the journal Obesity found relative fat mass to be associated with increased all cause mortality but found no significant association with BMI.

The point here: it’s not about the weight!  It is about the WHOLE picture, the WHOLE person the whole YOU.

Weight is used as a surrogate marker for health when in fact it should be used as a tool to spur a good assessment of someone’s health inputs in their life, like diet, exercise, community, fresh air, and ALL the requirements for optimal health (link to recipe for optimal health).

Consideration should be given to socioeconomic status and how this influences the choices someone has available to make for their health as it is a powerful factor!

Many people of high weight with symptoms of health-related problems are dismissed with advice to “lose some weight”, without further investigation and without help to resolve their symptoms.   This is so wrong, so harmful, so hurtful.

Being healthy is not just about not being sick.  It’s also not about being thin, or even not being fat.

(next issue I’ll show you how a weight inclusive approach to health compares to a weight normative approach-and I will explain what those terms mean!)

We optimize our health when we consistently do the things we need to do to operate physically, emotionally and spiritually at our best.

When we do that, our weight will optimize as well and we can maintain itself with relative ease.