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Jan 23rd 2024

Can You Be Fat AND Healthy?

. . . a misleading new study from Canada

Americans keep getting fatter. In the past 15 years adult obesity has approximately doubled in 17 states according to a survey sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Twenty years ago, not one state had an obesity rate of more than 15%. Now, only Colorado, with 19.8% obese, has an obesity rate of less than 20%. In twelve states, the obesity rate is above 30%.

As obesity becomes more normal, it's become more socially acceptable and less cause for concern. In the same way that many people consider themselves healthy even though they're taking several different medications, the overweight and even the obese now tend to see themselves as fundamentally healthy. A new study from Canada feeds this misperception.

Published last August in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, this study used a new rating system called the Edmonton Obesity Staging System (EOSS) to categorize the obese. It puts them into five categories according to the presence and seriousness of "comorbidities" (physical, psychological or physiological impairments): 0-none, 1-mild, 2-moderate, 3-significant and 4-severe, disabling (potentially end-stage).

The study found that middle-aged obese (average weight 230 lbs.) in categories 0-1, tracked over about 16 years, had about the same chance of dying as normal weight controls. In fact they had less chance of dying of heart disease, although more chance of dying of cancer. However for those in categories 2-3, risk of death from all causes was considerably higher.

The researchers also found that those in categories 0-1 ate better diets (higher in fruits and vegetables) and got more exercise than those in 2-3. Those in categories 2-3 had lost and regained more weight than 0-1, leading researchers to surmise that yo-yo dieting had led to poorer health.

The media has jumped all over this study, and unfortunately the take-away has been that trying to lose weight can be dangerous, whereas there's a way to be healthy as an obese person by focusing on maintaining weight with a good diet and regular exercise.

Let's be clear: a healthy obese person is an oxymoron. There is no such thing, because overweight IS a chronic disease. If you are even five pounds overweight, your biochemistry is not functioning as it should, and a disease process is underway. There are only two causes of disease: nutritional deficiency and toxicity. To understand how these apply to overweight disease, see my book, Never Be Fat Again.

All this study tells me is that if you're obese, you're better off eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising. If you do, you will have a good chance of dying at the same rate as normal weight people who may or may not have other health issues of their own (it's hard to find truly healthy people these days to function as controls in studies!).

But instead of settling for second-best, why not aim for optimal health? Most people probably don't because they don't think it's possible. But it is when you know how! Arm yourself with the knowledge offered in Never Be Fat Again, and lose weight the only sensible and permanent way, by gaining health!

Levi J. F as in fat: how obesity threatens America's future. Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, June 29, 2010.

Kuk JL. Edmonton Obesity Staging System: association with weight history and mortality risk. Applied Physiology, and Nutrition Metabolism. August 2011; 36:570-576. 




Information contained in NewsClips articles should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.