Health Controversy: Can You Be Fat and Healthy?
“I’m plus-size and at my healthiest!” Model Anansa Sims joins the debate, below. “I’m plus-size and at my healthiest!” Model Anansa Sims joins the debate, below.
“No. Most people who are fat are less healthy than they should be. Obesity is one of the most urgent public-health threats today. Being overweight raises your risk for virtually every major illness: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic arthritis and most cancers. When researchers at the American Cancer Society followed one million people for 16 years, they found the higher their body mass index, or BMI, the higher their risks of breast, uterine, stomach and liver cancers. Experts are still debating whether obesity takes years off your life; it most certainly takes life out of your years, making everyday things—biking, running for a bus, even shopping—more difficult. The point is, if you want to be vital and active now and into your future, you’re far better off maintaining a healthy weight.”
— David Katz, M.D., director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and author of The Way to Eat: A Six-Step Path to Lifelong Weight Control
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“Absolutely. It’s well documented that overweight people can lead long, disease-free lives. In fact, BMI is almost irrelevant, according to a study by the renowned Cooper Institute in Dallas. If you’re fat but fit—meaning you can be active for 20 to 30 minutes—you can live longer than people who are thin and out of shape! Putting all the emphasis on weight, regardless of diet or fitness, is harmful to everyone. It can lead thin people to believe it’s OK to eat junk and be unhealthy, and it implies that the best thing you can do if you’re overweight is diet. The truth is, the vast majority of dieters regain their lost weight, with some ending up heavier—a pattern that’s a big risk factor for many diseases that are too quickly blamed on weight. If you eat a good diet and exercise, you’re likely to be healthy, no matter what the scale says.”
— Linda Bacon, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at City College in San Francisco and author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight
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“That’s me, above. I’m a size 12 to 14, and I’m fit, happy and healthy. I wasn’t always this way. In fact, the most unhealthy I’ve been was when I was 40 pounds lighter. My mom, Beverly Johnson, was the first black model on the cover of Vogue, and when I was a teenager, I decided I wanted to be a model too. So I starved myself, took laxatives and overexercised to fit into the clothes that models wear, and then signed with a major agency. People said I looked great, but I felt miserable because I was depriving my body of nutrients, and the more weight I lost, the more my self-esteem fell. Now I’m a plus-size model, and I’m the size I was meant to be. Everyone’s body is different; you can be unhealthy if you’re skinny or heavy. The key is to find the weight that’s best for your body and stay there.”
— Anansa Sims, costar of Beverly’s Full House, premiering in March on OWN