Are you obese and keep trying to convince yourself that you’re healthy despite your size and don’t need to lose weight?
“Our findings challenge the idea that all obese individuals need to lose weight,” says a study’s lead author, Jennifer Kuk, in the report.
Kuk concludes that staying at the same elevated body weight is better for one’s health than repeatedly trying to lose weight.
But what if an obese person permanently loses the harmful excess body fat?
Kuk’s premise assumes that the obese person engages “in a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity and a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.”
Many formerly obese people, who have succeeded in losing dangerous amounts of weight permanently, used to repeatedly gain and lose weight before finally nailing the problem.
They are healthier at their leaner weight than they were at their heavy weight — assuming that they have not adopted any harmful habits since losing weight such as smoking.
As a former personal trainer, I see a major flaw in Kuk’s study. She seems to assume that most obese people engage in structured aerobic exercise and strength training workouts and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.
This is a walking-on-tightrope type of assumption to make.
In America, land of fast food, processed food, Dairy Queens and Dunkin Donuts, not to mention how easy it is to live here without hardly moving from a chair, it is way too easy to avoid regular exercise and eat a junk food diet.
Most people in America, regardless of their weight, do not engage in regular, structured cardiovascular exercise and strength training workouts.
The anecdotal evidence is present at any crowded venue (save for a fitness convention). Just look around.
You’ll see plenty of NON-overweight people who look as though they couldn’t dash up a flight of stairs without heaving for air or raise 30 pounds over their head to save their life.
Most people, thick and thin, subsist primarily on SAD: standard American diet — which is replete with heavily processed foods and short on fruits and whole vegetables.
And here is Kuk, of York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, painting an unrealistic portrait of obese people’s lifestyle habits.
But she’s correct in that obese (and thin) people will improve their health with exercise and more fruits and vegetables.
But this doesn’t mean that obese people don’t need to lose weight.
Exercise Is Always Good for Fat People
“I am not familiar with this study, but I agree that a fit overweight person can be healthier than a non-fit one, especially if they exercise regularly and make healthy dietary choices,” says Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, and Diplomate American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
Overweight people who are “fit” from workouts should never compare themselves to thin people who don’t exercise.
What’s more logical is for the overweight person who exercises to compare himself or herself to their sedentary version of the same excess weight.
“That said, obesity is still a stressor on the body — including the joints,” continues Dr. Besser.
“If you are carrying around a 50 pound sack of potatoes all the time, it will over time cause more stress on the joints and increase the wear and tear on the joints. Weight loss will reduce this stress and let your joints stay healthy longer.”
You Can’t Be Obese and Healthy
Jayne Doe weighs 220 pounds, does not smoke, eats a plant-based whole-foods diet, does an hour of cardio four times a week and an hour of strength training three times a week. Her cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar are normal.
Is she healthy? Well, she’s currently free of medical conditions that obesity can bring on.
And she’s leading a lifestyle that is extremely atypical for an obese person. Most obese people do not do what Jayne does.
But if Jayne safely got down to 150 pounds, she’d be a LOT healthier, fitter and faster, and MUCH LESS LIKELY to develop illnesses down the road for which obesity is a major risk factor!
Many obese people in their 30s and even 20s already suffer the destructive effects of excess body fat — in the form of knee and back pain, lack of stamina, non-symptomatic coronary artery disease, and prediabetes.
Dr. Besser provides comprehensive family care, treating common and acute primary conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Her ongoing approach allows her the opportunity to provide accurate and critical diagnoses of more complex conditions and disorders.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer for Bally Total Fitness.