Can You Really Be Healthy At Any Size?

Body size has always been a controversial topic that extends far beyond the scope of health. Dialogue about body size touches on aspects of psychology, sociology, business, fashion and more. What society considers to be an “acceptable” body has always been changing depending on cultural and historical settings. To make matters even more complicated, scientific views of what a healthy body is have also varied over the years. With all this in mind you must be wondering along with everyone else: does body weight say anything about health or not?

There isn’t an easy answer to this because it depends on a person’s individual health status. Overall, we know that many metabolic issues are associated with an overweight body size, but it’s not a simple cause and effect relationship. This means being overweight can be a concern, but it has much more to do with what’s going on inside of your body than how it looks on the outside. Let’s talk about it.

The Health at Every Size Movement

One of the most prominent movements on the topic of body size is the Health at Every Size (HAES) Movement. The goal behind the spread of this movement is to normalize a weight-neutral approach to health. 

There are 5 main principles of HAES: 

  • Acceptance and respect of all bodies
  • Ending weight discrimination in healthcare
  • Promoting equal access to health information and services
  • Support for life-enhancing physical activity
  • Eating for well-being. 

Despite how you may personally feel about the body-positivity or Health At Every Size Movement, it’s irrefutable that these are fair and sound principles. That being said, sometimes people make the conclusion that weight is entirely unrelated to metabolic health, and that’s not proven to be accurate.

Why Metabolic Measurements Matter More

Regardless of body size, measurements like insulin sensitivity, blood lipid levels, and liver enzyme tests are much more reliable factors to determine how someone’s metabolic health is doing. This gives real insight into what someone’s risk of metabolic disease could be and what actions they can take to reduce this risk.

The healthy habits that reduce risk of metabolic diseases are the same for all individuals. A balanced and nourishing diet, regular movement of some kind, and sometimes additional medications or supplements unique to each circumstance. 

Living a life aligned with these habits can often result in weight loss for overweight people, but that isn’t the primary goal your healthcare provider should be searching for. It’s simply a secondary byproduct of following a healthy lifestyle for some people. 

The Real Concerns of Being Overweight

Metabolic issues aside, there are other reasons why being significantly overweight can be of concern. Larger people are more prone to experiencing joint pain, having a low ratio of muscle mass to body size, having poor endurance, and sometimes even having difficulties getting around.

As always, this isn’t applicable to all overweight people, but it’s worth considering. It all comes down to how you feel in your body, what your metabolic health markers are, and if you’re able to complete daily physical tasks with ease.

No one has the right to tell you how you should look, and no one should ever deny or restrict healthcare based on body size. If you want to lose weight for your health, that’s wonderful. Conversely, if you’re happy and healthy at a larger body size, that’s equally valid. All individuals are worthy of respect and care, period.

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