Health Beyond Diet and Weight Loss
For many of us in this community, our first encounter with dieting wasn’t a concern with health. Similarly, for me and all the women I work with inside of my programs, their first diet was strictly focused on being in a smaller body. That is to say, we dieted for aesthetic reasons, not health.
As women, we do not want to diet. Instead, we want to be in a thinner body.
Our modern society believes that being thinner is better, smarter, and healthier. In other words, all of us have been taught at a very young age that health = thinness but is it true or is it just an assumption?
What if health wasn’t the outcome of the weight on the scale? Would you still want to diet?
Does “Obesity” Cause One to Be Unhealthy?
As of today in October 2019, there isn’t one study or research evidence that directly points to being overweight (BMI-based status) as a causative factor in diseases. That said, many studies will link/correlate obesity to health risks. In other words, weight status is never the sole factor in any health condition.
In this groundbreaking research on BMI and metabolic health, one-third to three-quarters of people classified as obese were metabolically healthy. Four health factors were measured and evaluated to achieve health status. These include blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and plasma glucose.
Moreover, when BMI categorized an individual as obese, this study showed that obesity did not affect the risks of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and mortality. However, it did increase diabetes risk although cumulative incidence remained low in healthy people.
In fact, the problem with considering weight as the main factor to your health is our inability to lose weight and sustain the weight loss. Hence, 95-98% of dieters regain all of their weight loss within 1-5 years.
Dr. Traci Mann, a UCLA associate professor of psychology and lead author of this study said, “We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.”.
Is Health Beyond Dieting Possible?
The short answer is yes. Based on research, it would appear that health isn’t attributed to the weight on the scale, therefore, we can say that health is possible without seeking weight loss.
A 2016 study by researchers at UCLA published in the International Journal of Obesity looked at 40,420 adults in the most recent U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It assessed their health as measured by six accepted metrics (not including BMI). The metrics include blood pressure, triglyceride, cholesterol, glucose, insulin resistance, and C-reactive protein.
It found that 47 percent of people were classified as overweight by BMI. Twenty-nine percent of those who qualified as obese were healthy as measured by at least five of those other metrics. Meanwhile, 31 percent of normal-weight people were unhealthy by two or more of the same measures.
So, if weight isn’t what ensures our long-term health, then what is? Studies that have actually controlled for fitness have found that it is more predictive for mortality than weight. This study defined ‘fit’ as 3-4 hrs/week of walking.
In this episode, we will cover how we can as women seek health beyond dieting and weight loss. Likewise, we will explore everything we can do today that can and will impact our health long term.
What you’ll learn listening to this episode:
- What is health?
- Does “obesity” cause one to be unhealthy?
- Is health beyond diet and weight loss possible?
- What is Health at Every Size?
- What is a weight-neutral approach to health?
- Body dissatisfaction & shame and health behaviors
- Shifting from weight management to health behavior
- What happens if we take the Going Beyond The Food Method approach to health?
- Who is the ideal candidate for The Going Beyond The Food Method Health approach?
- How to get started with a weight-neutral approach to health
Mentioned on the show:
Links & studies mentioned on the show: