NYT's Idea Lab: Losing the Weight Stigma
This is an interesting article in the Time's Magazine about the "healthy at any weight" movement. The idea is that focusing on body weight as a metric for health is not supported by evidence, and the label "fat" can be detrimental to a person's self-image.
The article cites a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that a large number of overweight and obese people have normal health indicators such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. So, labeling these people as unhealthy by this definition is wrong.
I do think it's important for everyone to have a positive self-image and self confidence. I do also wholeheartedly agree that sometimes people who are obese suffer from discrimination (a poll in the UK found that 90 percent of hiring managers would hire a thinner applicant over an obese one (The Times, London 1/23/2008)). So, I think health care professionals need to guard against labeling people offhand based on a BMI chart.
However, overweight and obesity IS a problem in this country, and around the world. Not addressing the problem because of fear of offense is also not a solution. Blaming the victim is not helpful, but neither is placation. The researcher in the article who advocates fat acceptance recommends eating only when hungry, and replacing junk with nutritious food. Isn't that what we all should be doing, regardless of size?
If it were only so easy.