Weight and Health – The Current Research

Scientific thought relating to weight and health has remained mostly the same for decades. Modern society has a view of obesity as being an inherently damaging and negative thing. People who are obese deal with a variety of health problems more frequently than those who are of a “normal weight”. In addition to these physical problems, the psychological impact on those who are obese in society is equally apparent. Overweight and obese people are more likely to be depressed, anxious, self-conscious and to have eating disorders, though which comes first, is debatable.

The opinions of academics differ. One thing that is largely agreed upon, however, is the ineffectiveness of dieting. In this context, I use the word ‘dieting’ to describe an effort to lose weight through a controlled and regulated eating schedule. Examples of such diets are the Atkins diet, diet shakes and weight loss groups.

Why Dieting Doesn’t Work

Many of us throughout our lives will go on a diet. Yet recent studies suggest that of those who go on controlled diets, less than 10% of people actually keep the weight off. Around 50% of people put the weight back on and a further 40% actually gain more weight.

For decades we have been told that the best method to lose weight is to eat less. It has become apparent in recent years that this is not true. Sandra Aamodt PhD has studied research conducted into the link between obesity and relative risk of death.

The study found that people who were a “normal weight” were at the same relative risk of death as people who were “overweight” or “obese” if those people all maintained four healthy habits. The habits used in the study were, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising for 30 minutes 3 times a week, not smoking and drinking in moderation.

 

A graph produced by Sandra Aamodt based on Research conducted by the American Board of Family Medicine

0-4 = The number of healthy habits maintained by participants

 

 

 

This research tells us that maintaining lifestyle choices allow our bodies to be healthier at any weight. Dr Aamodt argues that neurologically, it is better for us to eat intuitively. Dieting culture promotes the idea of controlled eating, which doesn’t allow us to properly identify what our bodies need. People who eat intuitively, including a well-balanced range of foods, exercise, don’t smoke and drink in moderation have the highest mortality.

Dr Aamodt is not the only academic to argue that health can be achieved at any weight. Her assertions are supported by Dr Linda Bacon, who perceives the fallacy of “perfect bodies” to be the creation of the food industry and society at large. These two academic ladies are among a group of academic researchers who are campaigning for a change in society’s thinking about weight and health.

Dr Bacon’s work has culminated in her ‘Body Manifesto’ as shown below. Her website details at length her vision for a world more accepting of a multitude of body types.

 

Linda Bacon’s Body Manifesto, available to download on her website.

 

Scientific opinion, however, is still divided. The consensus that can be drawn across academic thinking is that maintaining good lifestyle habits is the best way of ensuring a healthier life. Those who fail to maintain any of the lifestyle habits previously mentioned are more likely to be at risk of an early death regardless of their weight.

All of this tells us to ditch the diet plan and start the first day of your lifestyle plan. We have many women in the Rediscovering Me community who tackle the issues around eating and exercising for health and have been featured on our Facebook or Instagram wall.  Why not check them out for fresh ideas and inspiration?

In the meantime, join us on Social Media as Jane and Karen document their personal journeys across Facebook and Instagram. We’re on hand for support and guidance every day in our growing community.  If you want more help with this issue, why not drop us an email at getintouch@rediscoveringme.org and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

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