Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In Wellness Terms, the “F” Word is “Fat”

In my world of wellness consulting, “fat” is the bad word no one wants to hear.  We don’t want be fat, eat fat, or have our fat measured.  We’d rather not look at it on our plates or in the mirror.  And perhaps most of all, we don’t want to be called “fat.”  So health experts use the word “obese” instead. 

Whether the term is fat or obese, we occasionally need to talk about it, so let’s begin with a definition.  When most people learn that they’re considered obese, they’re surprised.  “Obese” sounds exceptionally big.  With 60% of the American population weighing above their healthy weight limit, we’re used to seeing big people.  To be obese, a person must have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more.  For someone 5’5” (male or female), that would mean weighing over 179 pounds and over 202 pounds for someone 5’9”.  It’s about 30 pounds above the upper end of their healthy weight range.  According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, “An individual is considered morbidly obese if he or she is 100 pounds over his/her ideal body weight, has a BMI of 40 or more, or 35 or more and experiencing obesity-related health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.”

There are many other false ideas about overweight and obesity that I’ll cover in the next few weeks.  Let me offer you one related new finding to keep you with me:  obese people are much more likely experience pain than thinner people.  A survey in the journal Obesity attributes this to arthritis, back and other musculoskeletal ailments, inflammation, and depression, all painful conditions.  Join me next time: the news does get better!

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