Can You Be Overweight and Healthy?

Reviewed Jan 31, 2019

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Summary

  • Focus on health habits rather than weight.
  • Learn normalized eating.
  • Be active for well-being and fun, not for weight loss.

Does your weight matter? Researcher Linda Bacon, Ph.D., says that it might not. However, what you eat and how active you are do matter. In her book, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, Bacon explains that:

  • Most people who lose weight eventually regain it. Weight that goes up and down may be worse for your health than being overweight.
  • Many large people eat reasonably. They are very active and are in good health.

The Health at Every Size (HAES) view is that a person should focus on overall health habits rather than weight.

Say “no” to dieting

The HAES focus:

  • Accept yourself at your current weight. BMI (body mass index) charts are too narrow of a range. They do not accurately reflect overall health.
  • Learn to respond to internal cues and practice normal eating: Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Many of us eat in response to external cues. These include the time of day, the notion that we must “clean our plates,” advertisements, etc. We should be aware of how certain foods affect our energy, comfort, and well-being. This can prompt us to choose more nutritious foods.
  • Find activities that you enjoy: Move for fun, to feel energized, and for your sense of well-being. An active lifestyle is good for your health. Exercising just to lose weight or to be a certain size often disappoints.

The bottom line

Switch your focus and your goals from weight loss to improving your health at your current weight. Focus on appreciating your unique body.

It can be challenging for many of us to lose weight and next to impossible to keep it off. The sense of fear or failure when the pounds won’t go or stay away can be overwhelming. HAES does not discourage weight loss, but rather HAES encourages a switch in focus.

As a result, you might find yourself eating healthier and exercising because you actually want to, not because you feel pressured. The idea is to focus on being healthy no matter your size or weight right now. Enjoy food, enjoy movement, and appreciate yourself. You might accept that people come in all shapes and sizes. You may gain healthier eating habits. And you may find types of movement that you enjoy. You could become healthier and perhaps even lose weight.

HAES research looks promising. Subjects in HAES studies had significant improvement in blood cholesterol, blood pressure, vitality, self-esteem, activity levels, and eating habits.

Reconciling views on healthy weight

If you are encouraged by the HAES claims, talk to your doctor about it. If your doctor agrees that nutritious (not restricted) food choices and regular activity are worthy goals, let her track your progress. Your doctor can monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other signs of health.

It’s possible that your doctor will still suggest you lose weight. Particularly if you are extremely obese, or if you show signs of heart disease, diabetes, or certain other diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Health, and many other organizations see obesity as a serious health risk. They recommend weight loss to improve health. The CDC says that losing just 10 percent of your total weight can greatly improve your health. HAES is not against weight loss. It advocates for a different approach to healthy practices. It urges appreciating ourselves.

No one organization or campaign has the absolute answer. You and your doctor can work together to find what works best for you and helps you to improve your overall health. 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Gaesser, G. (2006). "Fatness, Fitness & Health: A Closer Look At The Evidence". Absolute Advantage 3:18–21; Gibbs, W. (2005). "Obesity: An Overblown Epidemic?" Scientific American 292(6): 70–76; “Health at Every Size: New Hope for Obese Americans?” (2006) Agricultural Research; Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, PhD. BenBella Books, 2008; Robison, J. (2005). "Health at Every Size: Toward a New Paradigm of Weight and Health". Medscape General Medicine.

Summary

  • Focus on health habits rather than weight.
  • Learn normalized eating.
  • Be active for well-being and fun, not for weight loss.

Does your weight matter? Researcher Linda Bacon, Ph.D., says that it might not. However, what you eat and how active you are do matter. In her book, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, Bacon explains that:

  • Most people who lose weight eventually regain it. Weight that goes up and down may be worse for your health than being overweight.
  • Many large people eat reasonably. They are very active and are in good health.

The Health at Every Size (HAES) view is that a person should focus on overall health habits rather than weight.

Say “no” to dieting

The HAES focus:

  • Accept yourself at your current weight. BMI (body mass index) charts are too narrow of a range. They do not accurately reflect overall health.
  • Learn to respond to internal cues and practice normal eating: Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Many of us eat in response to external cues. These include the time of day, the notion that we must “clean our plates,” advertisements, etc. We should be aware of how certain foods affect our energy, comfort, and well-being. This can prompt us to choose more nutritious foods.
  • Find activities that you enjoy: Move for fun, to feel energized, and for your sense of well-being. An active lifestyle is good for your health. Exercising just to lose weight or to be a certain size often disappoints.

The bottom line

Switch your focus and your goals from weight loss to improving your health at your current weight. Focus on appreciating your unique body.

It can be challenging for many of us to lose weight and next to impossible to keep it off. The sense of fear or failure when the pounds won’t go or stay away can be overwhelming. HAES does not discourage weight loss, but rather HAES encourages a switch in focus.

As a result, you might find yourself eating healthier and exercising because you actually want to, not because you feel pressured. The idea is to focus on being healthy no matter your size or weight right now. Enjoy food, enjoy movement, and appreciate yourself. You might accept that people come in all shapes and sizes. You may gain healthier eating habits. And you may find types of movement that you enjoy. You could become healthier and perhaps even lose weight.

HAES research looks promising. Subjects in HAES studies had significant improvement in blood cholesterol, blood pressure, vitality, self-esteem, activity levels, and eating habits.

Reconciling views on healthy weight

If you are encouraged by the HAES claims, talk to your doctor about it. If your doctor agrees that nutritious (not restricted) food choices and regular activity are worthy goals, let her track your progress. Your doctor can monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other signs of health.

It’s possible that your doctor will still suggest you lose weight. Particularly if you are extremely obese, or if you show signs of heart disease, diabetes, or certain other diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Health, and many other organizations see obesity as a serious health risk. They recommend weight loss to improve health. The CDC says that losing just 10 percent of your total weight can greatly improve your health. HAES is not against weight loss. It advocates for a different approach to healthy practices. It urges appreciating ourselves.

No one organization or campaign has the absolute answer. You and your doctor can work together to find what works best for you and helps you to improve your overall health. 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Gaesser, G. (2006). "Fatness, Fitness & Health: A Closer Look At The Evidence". Absolute Advantage 3:18–21; Gibbs, W. (2005). "Obesity: An Overblown Epidemic?" Scientific American 292(6): 70–76; “Health at Every Size: New Hope for Obese Americans?” (2006) Agricultural Research; Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, PhD. BenBella Books, 2008; Robison, J. (2005). "Health at Every Size: Toward a New Paradigm of Weight and Health". Medscape General Medicine.

Summary

  • Focus on health habits rather than weight.
  • Learn normalized eating.
  • Be active for well-being and fun, not for weight loss.

Does your weight matter? Researcher Linda Bacon, Ph.D., says that it might not. However, what you eat and how active you are do matter. In her book, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, Bacon explains that:

  • Most people who lose weight eventually regain it. Weight that goes up and down may be worse for your health than being overweight.
  • Many large people eat reasonably. They are very active and are in good health.

The Health at Every Size (HAES) view is that a person should focus on overall health habits rather than weight.

Say “no” to dieting

The HAES focus:

  • Accept yourself at your current weight. BMI (body mass index) charts are too narrow of a range. They do not accurately reflect overall health.
  • Learn to respond to internal cues and practice normal eating: Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Many of us eat in response to external cues. These include the time of day, the notion that we must “clean our plates,” advertisements, etc. We should be aware of how certain foods affect our energy, comfort, and well-being. This can prompt us to choose more nutritious foods.
  • Find activities that you enjoy: Move for fun, to feel energized, and for your sense of well-being. An active lifestyle is good for your health. Exercising just to lose weight or to be a certain size often disappoints.

The bottom line

Switch your focus and your goals from weight loss to improving your health at your current weight. Focus on appreciating your unique body.

It can be challenging for many of us to lose weight and next to impossible to keep it off. The sense of fear or failure when the pounds won’t go or stay away can be overwhelming. HAES does not discourage weight loss, but rather HAES encourages a switch in focus.

As a result, you might find yourself eating healthier and exercising because you actually want to, not because you feel pressured. The idea is to focus on being healthy no matter your size or weight right now. Enjoy food, enjoy movement, and appreciate yourself. You might accept that people come in all shapes and sizes. You may gain healthier eating habits. And you may find types of movement that you enjoy. You could become healthier and perhaps even lose weight.

HAES research looks promising. Subjects in HAES studies had significant improvement in blood cholesterol, blood pressure, vitality, self-esteem, activity levels, and eating habits.

Reconciling views on healthy weight

If you are encouraged by the HAES claims, talk to your doctor about it. If your doctor agrees that nutritious (not restricted) food choices and regular activity are worthy goals, let her track your progress. Your doctor can monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other signs of health.

It’s possible that your doctor will still suggest you lose weight. Particularly if you are extremely obese, or if you show signs of heart disease, diabetes, or certain other diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Health, and many other organizations see obesity as a serious health risk. They recommend weight loss to improve health. The CDC says that losing just 10 percent of your total weight can greatly improve your health. HAES is not against weight loss. It advocates for a different approach to healthy practices. It urges appreciating ourselves.

No one organization or campaign has the absolute answer. You and your doctor can work together to find what works best for you and helps you to improve your overall health. 

By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Gaesser, G. (2006). "Fatness, Fitness & Health: A Closer Look At The Evidence". Absolute Advantage 3:18–21; Gibbs, W. (2005). "Obesity: An Overblown Epidemic?" Scientific American 292(6): 70–76; “Health at Every Size: New Hope for Obese Americans?” (2006) Agricultural Research; Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, PhD. BenBella Books, 2008; Robison, J. (2005). "Health at Every Size: Toward a New Paradigm of Weight and Health". Medscape General Medicine.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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