At any rate, the writer, an associate nutritionist at UC Davis, writes:
But what if we learned that our fears around that dreaded fat were misplaced? That "overweight" may confer some protection that actually results in increased longevity? That when factors such as activity, nutrition and history of dieting and weight cycling are considered, the relationship between weight and disease disappears? That biologic safeguards prevent most people from maintaining weight loss, despite vigilant dieting and exercise? That the body has a built-in regulatory system to maintain a healthful weight, if only we'd trust it?Her assertion that the collective "we" is healthier in spite of being fatter just doesn't ring true for me. Perhaps I'm brainwashed by the countless dire headlines I read almost daily. [I've pretty much stopped reading the articles, which are strikingly similar in content and degree of alarm. Which is probably why I did read this one … at least it's a different approach.]
Remarkably, there is substantial evidence to support all of these contentions in the scientific literature. It's remarkable not because they are illogical, but because the scientific peer review process tends to filter out anything that challenges the status quo.
Although it is true that we're moderately fatter than we used to be, life expectancy has also increased dramatically during the same time period in which our weight has risen (from 71 years in 1970 to 77 years in 2003). Meanwhile, heart disease rates have plummeted, and many common diseases emerge at older ages and are less severe. We are simply not seeing the catastrophic consequences predicted to result from the "obesity epidemic."
If healthier is defined as being medication-dependent, then she could be right. The "plummeting" heart disease rate is surely related to the many medicines which treat or prevent heart disease which weren't previously available.
My personal opinion is that pills may be protecting us when we choose not to protect ourselves with good nutrition and regular exercise, thus accounting for increased girth and decreased heart disease.
Ultimately, while many of us say we want to lose weight for our health, we also want to look good. Perhaps I should speak for myself. I want to be happy with my image when I look in a mirror. I want to choose clothes that flatter, not just fit. I want that little jolt of surprise when I see my reflection in a store window – is that really me?
Until society sees extra weight as attractive, I'm going to keep working at it. At my age, I think I'm going to be working at it for quite a while. People who maintain their weight losses don't quit when they get to goal.