If you think you have 10 pounds to lose, I recommend you read the "Obesity Myth". I will not try to give you a summary or complete review of the book (check out the reviews on Amazon.com by clicking on the book image) but list the points that struck home with me. For the record, I haven’t checked out all of Paul Campos’ claims about weight research studies, but as someone who follows any news about weight, his claims rang true.
Here’s what I learned from the book:
Fat vs Fit. We’ve all heard about the fat vs fit debate. Can you be fat and fit? Campos takes this one step further. There is no proof that losing weight will make you healthier. (Just because naturally thinner people might be healthier than you does not mean you will become as healthy as them if you lose weight.) Exercising and eating well, i.e. becoming fit, can improve your health, but there is no data that shows that losing weight will make you healthier! To the contrary, there is data that says that losing weight and regaining it is very bad for your health. So,
- Losing weight will not make you healthier.
- Being fit is good for your health.
- Being slightly overweight is much, much better for your health than being underweight.
- Over 90% of “obese” Americans are dieting. I’d argue that most American women are dieting. It doesn’t work. You can blame it on willpower if you want. How successful have you been at losing and keeping those 10 pounds off? For most people, dieting doesn’t work. It doesn’t really matter what you blame it on, it doesn’t work.
- Does fat disgust you? Do fat people disgust you? Most likely you answered yes to both those questions. Nobody wants to be fat and fat people are actively discriminated against. (They’ve done studies that even sitting next to a fat person in an interview room decreases your odds of getting the job!) So now you have to ask yourself why fat people disgust you. Is it because you think they are lazy? They don’t have self control? You’re afraid you might become fat? Don’t laugh, disgust is often driven by fear. If that “fat person” can run a 6 minute mile, does that change your opinion? Did you know that there are plenty of “skinny people” that can’t run a six minute mile? Are they still better than those lazy overweight people?
The questions are just to get you thinking. Campos closes his book with a really interesting point. His premise is that the privileges that used to distinguish social rank are now attainable by the masses: high quality clothing is now cheap, restaurant meals are now affordable, exotic vacations are more accessible, etc. So weight has replaced things like clothing, housing and vacations as a sign of wealth and social status. In today’s world it can be very expensive and time consuming to lose weight, especially if you are trying to lose 10 pounds from an otherwise healthy body! The time to plan healthy meals takes time – most fast food is not healthy or conducive to losing weight. Personal trainers, time to exercise, healthy foods, diet planning, liposuction, will power, fat camps, nutritionists, etc all take time, money and energy that makes them expensive. Because losing weight is expensive and time consuming, it’s obtained by fewer people, those that either have the resources through wealth or heredity, so it becomes a rare commodity and potentially, Campos argues, our new sign of the socially superior, the elite. There is very good data that ties being overweight to being poor and being thin to being wealthy. Just think about it for a while. Do you respect people more because they are thin? Is there any logical reason for you to do that?
Why are you trying to lose weight? (Remember, losing weight will not make you healthier and if you regain it, it will actually be worse for your health!)
So if you are trying to lose 10 pounds, think long and hard about why.