The Redefinition of Obesity

Oct 23, 4670

Incessant media imagery, including ads for diet pills, meal plans, and weight loss surgeries on every screen and in every magazine, makes it no surprise that the vast majority of individuals connect the existence of body weight with the absence of health. However, the two don’t always concur, and the bias against overweight people extends beyond the general public. While overweight individuals are pegged as the poster children of ill health, a condition wherein normal weight individuals face the same risks as overweight people has crept to the forefront.  

In an interview with, Rebecca Scritchfield, a registered dietician nutritionist, expresses disappointment with the lack of acknowledgement among the medical community about the stigma against overweight patients at the doctor’s office. “You could have people do the same thing and they’re going to be a different weight, including weights that would be in the obesity category.” Normal weight obesity (NWO), colloquially known as “skinny fat”, is a condition in which an individual is at the normal weight for their height but carries a high percentage of body fat. According to Mayo Clinic, obesity is defined by body fat and not by how much someone weighs. Additionally, a person with normal weight and high body fat may be at elevated risk for heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Mayo Clinic also states that more than half of the American adults that are considered normal weight have NWO. To prevent heart disease and other ailments, Mayo Clinic suggests a shift from exclusively tracking body mass index (BMI) and weight to also measuring the stomach and body fat percentage.

Countless online articles detail how to go about losing body fat without losing weight or compromising muscle, but the best thing to do when unsure about the body or health is to see a physician. In the meantime, suggests a series of dietary adjustments proven to aid in the loss of body fat and the maintenance of a healthy weight.

First, soluble fibers help a person feel full, slow the passage of food through the digestive system, and may help fight belly fat. Conversely, trans fats and overindulgence in alcohol are linked to inflammation and belly fat gain. Foods high in protein increase the sensation of fullness and help the body retain muscle mass as it experiences weight loss. Reduced sugar and increased healthy fats (such as omega-3) are encouraged for overall health. Finally, stress management, proper sleep, and exercise are key factors in maintaining an optimal body.

Everyone’s body is unique, therefore everyone’s experience with maintaining health is, too. With this in mind, it’s best that individuals not make assumptions about themselves or others based on appearance, whether they or the other person is skinny or fat. The journey to health starts with knowing oneself, family history, and with honest conversations with a trusted physician. No matter our size or background, we can all make concentrated and practical strides to be happier and healthier.

About the Writer

Tempest Wright

Contributing Writer

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