You’ve probably heard it before, it’s a catchy news headline: “The Obesity Epidemic” or “The War on Obesity”. It’s advertised on TV, on radio, in the paper, and online: “How to lose weight FAST” or even “This 1 trick that will melt off the pounds!”
Everywhere we look, news, media, and healthcare professionals are telling us that we are too fat and need to lose weight. We’re told that being too fat is going to give us all sorts of problems, and that losing weight will solve all of them.
So what’s the impact of these relentless campaigns to banish obesity? Have they succeeded in making us slimmer? Healthier? Happier?
Current statistics are telling us that rates of obesity and chronic disease are actually rising in most parts of the world.
There are entire units in hospitals dedicated to people who have developed eating disorders and body dysmorphia. A previously unheard of eating disorder called Orthorexia Nervosa, an obsession with eating “healthy” or “good” foods, is now on our radars.
Mental health has become a hot-button topic as more people are opening up about their struggles with depression and anxiety, among others.
If this is a war, we seem to be losing on all fronts.
And not only that, self-esteem and body confidence are taking the fall. A lot of individuals' self-worth has become intrinsically linked to a number on a scale. People who are overweight/obese are shamed for the way that they look because we, as a society, believe fervently that we can evaluate a person’s health and fitness based on their clothing size.
This logic is flawed for one big reason, although there are lots more:
Weight, or the numbers on a scale, only give you a reflection of your body’s relationship with gravity. That’s it, nothing else. (Other anthropometric measurements like BMI, body electrical impedance, etc. have major limitations in their applicability as well.)
So I’m here to tell you something you might not have heard before… being overweight doesn’t automatically mean you’re unhealthy or unfit! And, equally so, being thin doesn’t intrinsically mean you’re healthy and fit! You can’t actually tell anything about a person’s health or fitness by looking at them.
Bodies come in all sizes, shapes, and colours... and they all do amazing things everyday.