Focus on Fitness, Not Fatness
Critics and experts challenge the goal of thinness as unrealistic and unnecessary; they say fitness is better for health in the long run.
Focus on Fitness continued...
"What was unexpected was those who tried to lose weight -- but didn't --
those people had a mortality benefit," Gregg tells WebMD. "And our best
speculation as to the reason is there are behaviors that go along with weight
loss attempts that are good for you. These may have positive effects regardless
of whether a person is able to maintain weight loss. They adopt more active
lifestyles, they change diets. Over the long haul they are not successful at
losing weight, but these lifestyle changes seem to help."
Steven N. Blair, PED, president and CEO of the Cooper Institute, Dallas, is
perhaps America's leading advocate for a focus on fitness. He contributed a
blurb to Campos' book cover.
"I've never said we should just ignore overweight and obesity,"
Blair tells WebMD. "But I do think the health hazards of the so-called
obesity epidemic are overstated. That diverts attention from a bigger public
health problem: declining levels of activity and fitness."
Stanford University's William L. Haskell, PhD, leads a large study of
physical fitness, obesity, and heart disease. He's an expert in exercise,
health, and healthy aging.
"It is very important that despite being overweight, physical activity
has a lot of health benefits," Haskell tells WebMD. "The idea that's
out there is if you are not losing weight, you are not getting a benefit from
exercise. People think is the case but it really is not."
More Fit Doesn't Mean More Fat
It may actually be healthy for an overweight person to gain some weight - if
the new weight comes as muscle and not fat. Los Angeles psychologist Keith
Valone, PhD, PsyD, helps a number of patients in the entertainment industry
with issues such as exercise, weight loss, and body image.
"The first thing I do is tell patients to stop focusing on weight loss
and to focus on changing their body composition," Valone tells WebMD.
"Weight loss really is the wrong goal. The real issue is to reduce
percentage of body fat and, parenthetically for most, to increase percentage of
muscle mass. Actual weight may increase, but body composition must change. And
that comes from changing one's diet and altering one's exercise