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.
More Fit Doesn't Mean More Fat continued...
Getting active is only half of the equation. Diet -- as in healthy eating --
is just as important.
"The idea that maybe overweight individuals should focus on activity and
not weight loss is probably not a bad idea for a number of people," Haskell
says. "But the problem is, we can always eat a lot more calories than we
Changing to a healthy diet means cutting back on high-fat food and on
starchy carbs. It means eating a balanced diet that includes protein, whole
grains, vegetables, fruit, fiber, and, yes, some healthy fats. People who do
this, and who get moderate exercise, can lose body fat and gain lean
"The studies suggest that if a 300-pound person drops 30 pounds, that
person will have substantial reduction in several risk factors," the CDC's
Gregg says. "And also that person will probably see an improvement in
physical function and musculoskeletal problems and reduce his or her risk of
osteoarthritis. And there would be a whole effect on health-related quality of
life that is independent of these risk factors."
America Has an Eating Disorder
People with eating disorders have a distorted body image. They think they
are fat even though they are dangerously thin. They are disgusted by fat. They
exercise not for health, but to burn away calories. They weigh themselves not
to check on their health, but to see how much weight they have lost. They
starve themselves on crash diets until their brains rebel, forcing them to
binge. The guilt makes them even harder on themselves.
Americans, Campos argues, have a collective eating disorder: We see normal
people as fat. We are so disgusted by fat that the only perfectly acceptable
prejudice is prejudice against people who are overweight or obese. We go on all
kinds of crash diets, then feel guilty for binging on fast food. We are
obsessed with weight, to the detriment of our health.
"The emaciated anorexic who looks in the mirror and says, 'I am fat' --
she is just working out the logical consequence of how we have demonized body
fat in this culture," Campos says. "It is astonishing what is
considered fat in this society."