Healthy at Any Size?

We’re the first to tout the fit at any size philosophy—the idea that you can be heavier than the charts advise, but in otherwise good health (and, by the same token, you can be within the recommended weight range, but unhealthy). You definitely can’t just look at someone and know how healthy or unhealthy they are. But, unfortunately, new research shows that obese women who are otherwise healthy may still have an elevated risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Over a period of six to 10 years, researchers from the University of Texas compared lean, healthy women to obese women deemed “metabolically healthy”—that is, they weren’t insulin resistant and had normal blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood sugar levels. (Note: People who had only one “bad” report on the measures previously listed were still considered metabolically healthy.) Turns out, the heavy but healthy women faced a higher 10-year risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease than the thin women, forcing the scientists to conclude that high BMI is “not a benign condition,” regardless of what other numbers may tell you.

The takeaway: While BMI still isn’t the be all and end all of your health, you should consider it an independent marker—a measure of how your body may be doing on the inside, even when you’re in the clear everywhere else. That’s not to say you should obsess over every pound (that creates a whole different set of problems), but if your weight starts creeping into the danger zone, set health-focused goals, like feeling more energetic or protecting your ticker, to help you drop the extra pounds.

Tell us what you think? Can you be healthy at any size?


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