A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook about how long-term research is revealing that the several million Americans who fall into the “overweight” or “obese 1” categories on the BMI scale are actually at lower risk for certain diseases (like diabetes and heart disease) than people in the “normal” and “underweight” categories. Additionally they are finding that people who change their body weight (be it gaining or losing drastically) are at highest risk of all.
Since we’ve all been force fed a steady stream of insistence that we must all be skinnier to be healthy for so long now, I can understand why these statistics would be surprising to some people. Since I’ve been eating, breathing and sleeping weight loss and nutrition research for five years now they are not surprising to me.
There is a word for losing weight via calorie restriction: that word is starving.
When you lose weight because you are deliberately not giving your body the calories it needs to maintain its weight, you are starving to death. You’re doing it very slowly, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually good for you. Those of us with enough extra calories stored up can successfully starve to death for years and years without dying, but rest assured if we do not eventually stop it will kill us one day.
Regardless of what the FDA or the CDC or your own Doctor tries to tell you, there is absolutely nothing whatsoever that is medically healthy about starving. Changing your body weight is a dangerous process and it needs to be done carefully, and preferably slowly. I am aware that right now as my weight is dropping I am more at risk for a heart attack than I ever was while maintaining a steady 275 pounds. When I get to my goal weight, once I stop changing, my risk factor will drop back down again – but right now in the process of changing is a dangerous place to live.
That’s also why yo-yo dieting weight changes need to be avoided at all cost. Dragging your body up and down the weight scale repeatedly is an incredibly dangerous thing to do, and may account for a lot of deaths among obese individuals that have incorrectly been attributed to simply being obese. I am guessing (and it’s just a guess) that the reason why people in the overweight and obese 1 categories seem to die the least frequently from heart disease is because their weight tends to be stable. Though they may struggle endlessly to shed those fifteen or twenty pounds they find aesthetically displeasing, the truth may be that their metabolism stubbornly holding onto a state of homeostasis is probably what is protecting them, just as it’s meant to. Women in particular are biologically designed to hold onto a few healthy, protective pounds around our belly and thighs area.
I won’t argue that steadily being a lower body weight rather than a drastically high one isn’t good for human beings in many ways, particularly with regards to joint issues and negative social repercussions. However, the process of losing weight is not and never has been a healthy thing to do (just as gaining weight isn’t) and I am really tired of the medical community not only failing to address that fact, but also deliberately trying to hide it.
Maybe if they addressed the truth they could do a better job of helping people find ways to change more safely.