We have a ton of study-backed data coming out right now that challenges decades-long concepts of health and weight.
People under age 35 cannot lose or maintain weight at slightly lower caloric intake and higher exercise levels than the previous generation, accounting for quality of food. We are actually observing a shift in genetic potential for metabolism and body fat right now.
BMI alone (the reason we even have a concept of “she’s too fat”) is a poor indicator of potential disease, because we have linked the macronutrient component of dietary intake to all of the diseases we have long believed to be weight-based. Part of the issue is that the low fat, carb based diet that the USDA food guidelines pushed from 1985-2015 is actually closely linked to not only weight gain, but also to the rise in that timeframe that we have seen in: heart disease, TII diabetes, Alzheimer’s and dementia, and autism and cerebral palsy in live births. (ICYMI, the USDA dropped the fat limit on dietary guidelines this year, and admitted that it was never based on scientific research. They no longer suggest low-fat products be substituted for full-fat, especially in dairy, because of the added carbohydrate value in those products, which is shown to increase all of the outcomes they had previously claimed were related to fat intake without proof.) We have also learned that in order for even a morbidly obese BMI to be a predictor of future health, it must be combined with low muscle mass and at least a 36” waist circumference.
A young woman with an hourglass or pear figure who is moderately active and eating a healthy diet based on whole foods and not limiting fat intake is not less healthy than a normal weight counterpart unless her bloodwork shows an active problem. Erica Schenk is a marathoner who was recently featured on the cover of Women’s Running, so I am fairly certain that she isn’t idolizing a health issue. Clinging desperately to outdated health ideas that were never backed by controlled studies in the face of new data backed by multiple peer-reviewed studies IS idolizing a health issue, though, and that issue is that so many people are quick to dismiss any problem a fat person is having as being related to their fat because the person making that assumption is not appropriately educated. At an overweight or obese BMI, a person is not automatically at a higher risk for diseases we have long related to weight, but they ARE automatically in a group that is less likely to die from acute illness, emergency interventions, and routine surgery. We are learning every day that our concept of health has been totally wrong for a very long time. Fat =/= Unhealthy, without other data on each individual to prove otherwise.
Amazingly, I am both “for real” about that, and also not glorifying the bodies in this post. I can point out that when a standard changes, we cannot blithely compare pre-change and post-change statistics, while also having coffee and gawking at these photos like a total jackass with my boyfriend. That’s a thing I am totally, 100% for real about, because I like having conversations that use correct information and comparisons.
Congrats to you on your weight loss, and I can completely commiserate about extra skin that insurance won’t pay for, despite covering bariatric surgery and amphetamines. I can also get behind everyone who complains about the BMI standards being bullshit lazy medicine, because I am “overweight” by BMI standards, but have no weight related health issues (I do have PCOS, which has reacted very well to low glycemic diet and tons of exercise, none of which have resulted in weight loss) and my body fat percentage is well within the healthy range (and all located in visible areas).
As a fun aside, medical issues related to body fat start at a MUCH higher fat than most people believe. “Overweight” BMI is actually associated with a **lower** morbidity than “normal” or “underweight”, and “obese” is only at about a 2% higher risk for heart disease and diabetes. The CDC also accidentally overstated the number of deaths in their obesity report by about 280,000. The actual total was about 120,000, not 400,000. Being in the overweight category actually saved about 86,000 people. It turns out that “normal” weight people are more likely to die of routine illnesses and surgical procedures than “overweight” people, while those in the overweight category do not suffer any higher rate of habit-associated diseases like TII Diabetes or CHF. Normal and underweight people are more commonly victims of dementia and Alzheimer’s, too, but we don’t consider those weight-related diseases. Funnily enough, they are directly tied to lower body fat percentages, but we only just realized that.
Sometimes, I really miss studying and working in medicine. Then I remember that most people practice based on their previously held beliefs instead of evolving their beliefs based on the evidence being discovered over time (which is how we still have low-fat diets being suggested despite no evidence to support them, and overwhelming evidence that high-fat diets are protective to both the heart and brain). I don’t have my head in the sand, and I don’t support a culture of denial. I’m just equal opportunity in my habit of lambasting bad statistics and lazy opinions.
The BMIs at which we determined normal/overweight/obese also changed in 1998 to be lower than before. Comparing anything pre-1998 to anything post- has to be adjusted, and I somehow doubt you have access to the full data used to come to that percentage so that you can appropriately adjust for the number of people who became “overweight” overnight.