I hope you’ll all head over to Healthy Urban Kitchen to read Sarah Lord’s guest post on the recent meta-analysis about whether or not you can be healthy and obese. Sarah, a PhD candidate in biological sciences, tips her hand with the title: Obesity – How the Media Misleads You.
In the original study (actually a meta-analysis of previous studies), the authors calculated the “relative risk” of dying for various populations. Here is what Sarah discovered in the full study, ranked in order of risk:
|Metabolically healthy, normal weight
|Metabolically healthy, overweight
||1.21 (0.91 – 1.61)
|Metabolically healthy, obese
||1.24 (1.02 – 1.55)
|Metabolically unhealthy, obese
||2.65 (2.18 – 3.12)
|Metabolically unhealthy, overweight
||2.70 (2.08 – 3.30)
|Metabolically unhealthy, normal weight
||3.14 (2.36 – 3.93)
Look at the folks at most risk!
Now, it’s possible that the confounds are things like eating disorders, smoking, and other negative health behaviors. And Dr. Sharma’s work suggests that the number of metabolically healthy and obese is not particularly high, perhaps 10-15%. But what we don’t really know, largely because of the cultural acceptance that obesity is the only marker for health, is how many metabolically unhealthy, normal weight people there are.
Interestingly, there’s a curious post over on Yoni Freedhoff’s site about one person’s bad experience with HAES. But I think commenter valerie nails it (emphasis mine):
Maybe I am a bit slow, but I thought HAES was about adopting health-promoting behaviors. Regardless of your weight. Is it not?
Those health-promoting behaviors might include avoiding junk food, being active and getting enough sleep, or they might focus on drinking in moderation, not smoking and buckling your seatbelt. Regardless of your weight.
If you chose to change your weight for medical reason, well, good luck. You don’t control your weight. You control your behaviors. The behaviors you chose to adopt might have an impact on your weight, but they might not.
I am not a HAES evangelist, but I do think that their focus on healthy behaviors rather than weight loss is hard to argue with.
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