Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Healthy Side of Being Pleasantly Plump--a guest post by Dr. Kim Bateman

As I have been writing about learning to love my natural body I have heard many readers raise concerns about the issue of health. One comment reads:

"I don't think there is anything wrong with a person who is truly overweight wanting and having the goal of losing weight. In fact, a doctor will tell that person to do that--the vast majority of health problems in this country come from obesity, and if losing 30 pounds will allow someone to live a longer and healthier life, I think that is a great goal and should not be looked down upon. I encourage my husband to exercise because I want him to be around longer and not have the same health problems of high cholesterol as his dad. How do you feel about health issues and weight? I have never noticed you to address this issue when talking about body image."

I wanted to address that great question today, and gratefully my friend Dr. Kim Bateman agreed to write a response for me. I think you'll find this guest post insightful, if not a bit shocking:

After 35 years of medical practice combating disease and lifestyle flaws, and of watching my own powers ebb, I’ve stumbled onto two pieces of encouraging news.

I recently ran across this graph, which gives me hope—and pause. When I was in school, American male life expectancy was 69 years. Now that I’m edging up to that cliff and not just a little concerned, out comes a graph like this, which somewhat gratuitously adds another nine years of life. And what’s more, those of my age group who managed to escape the ravages of the young: birth defects, hang gliding accidents, homicide, suicide, and military service, average life expectancy reaches 83! photo uslifeex_zpsba9562d7.png

How can this be? What about all the talk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, violence, environmental decay, unsafe foods, and obesity ruining society as we know it? How can people be living longer each successive year if the health of the nation is going to pot? Is someone playing Chicken Little?

Did I say obesity? I’m an expert, having personally lost 50 pounds three times. The same 50. My daughter Janna, an eating disorder expert, got to me, so I threw away my scales, gave up dieting, started eating intuitively and (I don’t know for sure without scales) have accumulated approximately 50 pounds back again, but not without guilt and concern they might jeopardize that magical average life expectancy of 83.
And then came the other piece of good news. This January a large study on BMI (a measure of weight per height) and mortality showed that “overweight” people (BMI from 25-30) actually have significantly lower mortality than people who are underweight, normal in weight, or obese (BMI>30). Further, the “grade I obesity” group (BMI 30-35) had the same mortality rate as the normal weight group. So, increased risk of dying afflicts thin people and very obese people. And a bonus for me: for people over 65, no BMI, high or low, predicts mortality.

Let me bring these findings home to you. Since you likely measure yourself with scales, presumably you’re more familiar with weight in pounds than BMI. For a 5’7” woman, the weight range associated with the longest life would be 160-191 lbs. That’s right. Just take a moment to ponder that. And we’ve been calling this category “overweight.” For the same woman, 192-223 lbs. would confer the same life expectancy as a “normal” BMI. Doctors call this grade I obesity. I think we should change the names to extra-healthy and pleasantly plump.

Now that is contrary to logic and to everything we doctors have been preaching for decades. (I recognize that some of you readers or your doctors are going to be skeptical. If so, check out the references at the end.) It looks like society’s hysterical drive to thinness isn’t just driven by fashion, but by the medical profession itself. Maybe doctors’ offices need to throw out the scales, too.

This isn’t just any study. It is a “meta-analysis” which considers the 141 best research studies on BMI and mortality involving 2.88 million individuals and over 270,000 deaths, and was published in the highly respected Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

As mentioned, this study just reflects many others with similar findings. And it agrees with related studies on dieting, one of which shows that a voluntary weight loss (“successful” dieting) of 20 lbs increases mortality rate (rate of dying) by 11%. (The exception to this is type II diabetes, in which even moderate obesity carries increased mortality that is improved with weight loss—an important subject for another time.)

So those are good tidings that ease my conscience and my fears. Of course, none of this means that good food and regular exercise aren’t linked to longevity. They are. And we will all die someday. Most of us will get sick. It just means we doctors can do more harm than good when we recommend a target weight and dieting to everyone above a certain BMI.

In a letter to the editor of JAMA following publication of this article, Swapna Abhyankar MD and Clement J. McDonald MD chimed in aptly, suggesting to doctors: “…we also wonder if it is time to simply reject the notion that being overweight or mildly obese is always bad for patients and to stop hounding such patients about their weight.” Amen.

And me? I’m going to enjoy this pleasantly plump body of mine, feeding it whatever makes it feel loved, making sure that my daily walk is a pleasure, not a duty, and hoping those extra 14 years of life expectancy will count for something.

 photo kim-bateman_200x250_zps9d70cf4f.jpg 
Brief bio for Kim Bateman, MD
35 years in medical practice, former Utah Medical Association President, AMA officer, National Family Doctor of the Year, noted medical quality improvement expert, over 30 published academic articles.

Flegal KM, Association of All-Cause Mortality with Overweight and Obesity Using Standard Body Mass Index Categories JAMA, January 2, 2012—Vol 309, No. 1
Heymsfield, MD, Does Body Mass Index Adequately Convey a Patient’s Mortality Risk? JAMA, January 2, 2013—Vol 309, No. 1
Harrington M, A Review and Meta-analysis of the Effect of Weight Loss on All-cause Mortality Risk Nutr Res Rev, 2009 Jun:22(1)93-108


Alexis said...

Hear...hear! I think we should all strive to be healthy. Yes, exercise...yes, don't eat that whole bag of chips. But learning to love and accept the shape we've been born too will probably do much more for our health self than weighing 120 lbs will.

Even at my very skinniest self, I was not 120 lbs. My body simply won't go there without significant starvation. Fat-o-phobes need to quit pushing.

Townhouse Towny said...

I know at which weight I feel healthy, and at which weight I begin to feel unhealthy. I wish I wasn't seen as sloppy/fat/unhealthy when I am feeling my very best, as I am now. Perhaps I would feel even better at a lower weight, but I'm nursing, and on top of the world - so I'm not changing a thing for the time being, until my baby decides to wean.

deb8able said...

I am so happy to read this....I think i love this doctor lol

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

This post still misses a major point which is quality of life. Sure, you might live well into your eighties, or longer. But how many medications will you be taking? Will you be missing toes/feet/fingers from uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes? Will you need dialysis because your kidneys can't handle your diabetes or high blood pressure? Will you be able to enjoy your time here if you are unable to keep up with your family because of that extra 30 lbs? Will your joints and muscles allow you to? And will you be able to afford the medications and other costs of disease processes in your life? As a nurse, I am struggling to find the merit in this post. I am sure that Dr. Bateman is a well-intended and knowledgeable physician, but this is probably the most carelessly composed piece of writing you've ever had on this blog, C. Jane. I am an avid reader and I have often felt so incredibly edified by the writing you do (and that of your guests). Dr. Bateman answered the question of lifespan in highlighting the JAMA meta study, but not the question your reader posed, which was about "health issues".
Don't misunderstand, because I think that discussions on body image and learning to accept our imperfect bodies is a wonderful use of your blog space, but to ignore the fact that BMI is directly related to serious disease processes is foolish.

Megan Reinbold said...

I REALLY needed this today. Thank you Courtney. It made me cry. In a good way! <3

Evonne said...

I think he's forgetting to mention the reason people are living longer. In spite of more disease, health issues, etc people are living longer due to increased interventions (medications, surgeries, etc.). It's a choice of the quality of life you desire as you get older. Do you want to take handfuls of medications, be in and out of hospitals, under the knife, etc (but live almost as long as the person down the street who has a "fit" body without disease).
This is an interesting article, but as an MD, he should address *why* people are living longer in spite of the increase in disease, cancer, heart attacks, etc.

Mom2-4 said...

I kind of think modern medicine keeps us ticking despite our fat selves. My mom is 64 and on probably eight medications and has been overweight the majority of her adult life. She has a pill for everything. She consumes about four or five "indulgences" a day. Sure she enjoys the euphoric effects a donut gives her but at what price? She cannot climb a flight of stairs, care for her grandchildren, ride a bike, go for a walk around her farm, has a heart attack in her forties, etc. Because of the advancement of pharmaceuticals she is alive today. If you consume 3000 calories a day you too can be really overweight. Because you don't die is not justification for eating a sleeve of Oreos a day. I struggle with my weight and I am honest enough to admit it is because I medicate myself with food. I could benefit from one of the 12 step programs you refer to. Even though I am only 25 lbs overweight I am very aware of where it came from and why. I have to also be honest about the likelihood I will have diabetes just as my mom and oldest sister have. I will have worsening heart disease as my mom and sister have and both can be completely avoided if I put the Oreos down. It is my drug and probably yours. Lets call a spade a spade. We can love ourselves despite being fat, but I kind of dislike when we dismiss the very real dangers of being fat. I like being tan. I am happy when I am tan. Is tanning good despite the longer life expectancy, absolutely not.

Angela said...

I was pretty psyched when I read about this study, and equally excited to read Dr. Bateman's article. I've never made it into the "normal weight" category, despite years of trying and a very healthy lifestyle. I always end up squarely in the "overweight category." I wear a size 14, I look great and I haven't been to the doctor for anything other than a checkup in 12 years. The BMI is ridiculous, and it's time we let it go as a barometer of health.

Kristin said...

To unknown: I currently have a bmi of 33. I would like to lose weight - like I have almost all of my life (at least since 4th grade), but I ran 4 miles this morning and exercise everyday. I wakeboard, ride bikes with my kids, play sports, go on hikes, and enjoy life.

I have a higher than 'ideal' BMI, but my quality of life is good. I might enjoy shopping more if I fit in a different size, but my life wouldn't change all that much.


Monica said...

Amen to mom 2-4

Angela said...

For those of you raising doubts about this study, I think it's important to understand the categories of the BMI that it addresses. The "extra healthy" group, or "overweight" on the BMI, is 25-29.9. Ask around...most people you know who are in this category won't look overweight at all. On my frame, which is 5'8", that could be 165 pounds,a size 10-12. Would I suffer quality of life issues at that weight? Of course not.

The "obese" category, which the study shows is equal to normal weight people in morbidity rates, is 30-34.9. On my 5'8" frame, that could be 200 pounds, or a size 14. Would I be losing toes or unable to keep up with my family at that weight? Again, no. (I've actually been that weight and ran a 10K.)

When you say, "But what about quality of life?", which I do think is a valid question, you're probably thinking of people who are in the "severely obese" or "morbidly obese" categories. The study isn't saying those weights are healthier.

But trust me on this, we'll do a lot more good suggesting to a 300 pound woman that she set her goal at 220 than insisting she get to 140. Our ideas about what is healthy are so out of whack, and for me, the beauty of this study is that it starts to redefine what a healthy weight is.

Barbie said...

I am 52, overweight and accepting of the fact. For most of my life I have fought to be "the right weight" and for most of my life I have failed. I run an organic farm so my life is daily outdoor exercise. I eat good food and pretty much no junk but still my short stature carries lots of extra. I am finally accepting of this and now call myself "sturdy." My grandmother was under five feet and weighed about 165. She lived long and strong with no meds or health issues until the day she 99 years old. It can be done!

Helen Anderson said...

All this talk is making me hungry.

Mari said...

Wow. This is great!

Forget the fact that I have recently lost 30 pounds (proper eating and exercise), and as a result healed my severe lower back/hip pain, and I feel/look a million times better and healthier . . .

I am off now to bake some cookies and ditch my scale, and health plan -- so I can be "pleasantly plump" and live longer!


Jessica said...

The defensive and sarcastic comments here bother me. If you or someone you love has lost weight - congratulations. That is a very difficult thing to do and I commend you. But the point of this article was not to "give a pass" to 350 pound morbidly obese people. It was about the women who hover around 200 pounds and are unjustly shamed by our society into thinking they are shortening their life span because they are not a size 2. Health is complicated and family history is a factor too. You can be 200 pounds and do everything you want to do with your kids and not be on medication. You can be 120 pounds and be on medication because of genetics. We are all different. Be kind.

Morgan said...

(The exception to this is type II diabetes, in which even moderate obesity carries increased mortality that is improved with weight loss—an important subject for another time.)

Huge, huge, huge (pardon the pun) exception. Almost seems misleading not to talk about it in the same post.

Morgan said...

Joining in the chorus that is Unknown, Evonne, Mom 2-4, Monica. Kristin and others saying they feel great. I think that's wonderful, and surely not everyone was meant to be super thin (5'8", 190 pounds with two sisters who weigh about 120here) but how long will you feel good? Most of my aunts and uncles previously in the not-regular-exercisers but maintained years in the "overweight" 25-30 category are now in their 50s and finding themselves in need of blood pressure meds, cholesterol meds, etc. This is why I work to reduce my BMI and exercise regularly and avoid gratuitous sugar spikes/carbs. The quality of life issues come in exponentially more in those extra 10-15 years the good doctor talked about.

Natalie said...

I love this. Though I'm currently in the process of losing weight through healthy eating (and healthy portions of that eating, btw) and exercise, I have been frustrated by the perceptions of skinny people being healthier than bigger people. You can't tell someone's health by looking at them. That size 2 girl might be a smoker. The size 12 girl might walk five miles a day. You don't know! For me, it is about feeling healthy. I had reached a point where my body was telling me it was suffering from the unhealthy lifestyle (and therefore weight gain) I was living for too long. For instance, throwing out my back at 25 and ending up in the ER, being winded just walking short distances, etc. I've had good friends who are heavier than I am who exercise regularly and ate healthier and were in a lot better shape than I was. Size is irrelevant because we all have different body types.

Cheryl said...

I am conflicted about this post. I am "pleasantly plump" and felt a great sense of relief reading this...however...I do not feel healthy or fit at this weight. I cannot do everything f with my kids I want to. My feet hurt and so does my back, all would improve if I lost 25-30 lbs. I could also be off my BP medication. Finding justification in a medical article for me does no good in my quest for health. I'll never be a size 6, but I would love to be a healthy size 12 again.

zben said...

Hear Hear! I think what Kim is saying here is that we just need to be healthy for what is right for us and stop defining ourselves with categories. I have always been in the 'overweight' category, but maintain a healthy lifestyle. Last year I worked super hard and lost 50 pounds and promptly gained back 30. We need to be healthy in what we eat and in our exercise, but we also need to be kind to ourselves and do it out of love not fear. Also I might be biased in my opinion of Kim's words since he was the Doctor who helped deliver me and I've known his family my whole life. :)

kristy said...

More please! I really want to know more about the subject of weight and diseases. In this articular Dr. Kim Bateman says that diabetes and weight are another topic for another time. I would love to know more about this exception, and others if there are any. For so long I thought being overweight invited disease, but these statistics suggest otherwise. Thank you so much for sharing. I hate the weight and diet craze everyone is in. This was refreshing!

Mar C said...

My mom lived a very healthy lifestyle throughout her life and still passed away at an early 69 years from cancer. Her last words to me were, “you are beautiful and never forget it, I love you”. I personally feel it’s all about how you feel inside. If your comfortable with your self, help others. If not, change. It’s a wonderful gift!

kkerin said...

Also Amen to Mom 2-4. I can't help but wonder if some of these commenters feel somehow justified being overweight based on this "study." "I like being tan. I am happy when I am tan. Is tanning good despite the longer life expectancy, absolutely not." This. Yes!

Martha Thomson said...

At my last physical my Dr asked me if I had any complaints, I told him my weight wasn't where I want it to be.( I am about 20-25lbs over what the charts say I should be) He shrugged his shoulders and said "Neither is mine." And then he moved on to look at my blood work results, talk about my exercise routine, my diet, etc. The scale is only one indicator of health. If only the mainstream media, the young girls out there starving to be thin, and society in general could know this.
Does anyone remember a few years ago on Dancing With the Stars when a super slender, super model was a
contestant? After her first dance, which was awful, her partner said "She is surprisingly unfit." Thin does not now and never will always equal healthy or fit.
Thank you CJane for this discussion

Alisha said...

I echo others' comments about quality of life vs. quantity of life. You may live longer, but how many health issues will you have? How many medications will you take? I am all for being gentle with ourselves and not depriving ourselves of favorite foods, but only in moderation. I found this article interesting to read but too simplistic in its assumptions. As a 30-year-old who has 3 inherited physical diseases and 2 inherited mental, I know staying at a healthy weight is hard (I feel it's VERY hard for me personally, even outside of food) but it's a priority for me as I move through life.

Chera said...

I am all for people being whatever weight. I don't think BMI should be the only thing considered. Body fat percentage plays a big role as well. Quality of life is important too. I think this article gives the message that eat, drink, and be merry because science says we can live longer. I agree that focus shouldn't be on weight but it should be on how well you can live your life so that when you get older you can live as much on your own as possible without constant need of medication. I take this information with a grain of salt.

Mom2-4 said...

@ Martha Thompson, because your doctor also isn't a healthy weight than you are golden? This is a sad commentary for our healthcare professionals. If he smoked and you smoked than you wouldn't have to worry about the ill effects of smoking? I am not attacking you because I too am 20-25 lbs overweight and I know I could eat healthier and take better care of myself. We need to be honest about the food we fuel our bodies with. If you are healthy despite being heavier than you should be, great. It still is no indicator you will remain healthy.

To those that think the naysayers are talking about morbidly obesity, I am not. My mom is probably 5'3 and hovering around 185lbs, not 300. This doctor has yet to see OUR generation, the fat one, reach age 83. We are in our thirties, early forties. We grew up with McDonalds on every corner. We spend our adulthood on our couches reading and writing blogs, on FB, etc. Do not kid yourselves.

Jenny said...

If you read through the post again, you'll notice he said that those with type II diabetes are an exception to this. That in their cases losing weight would be essential to their health.

al said...

I'm all for agreeing that we overall need to have a more positive body image but, at the same time, unhealthy is unhealthy. This article is all about telling ourselves what we want to hear, it is not speaking truth. I agree with Mom2-4, there are not yet studies of MY generation (I'm 22) and how long we are going to live. We eat junk, and a lot of it. It's going to affect us in the long run, whether we live in denial or not.

Wendy Jensen said...

I am a mental health therapist who specializes in the treatment of individuals who have eating disorders. I loved the content and challenges to our “thin based” beliefs found in this article. I find that daily we are inundated by the culture of thinness and dieting. My favorite definition of “healthy weight” is “The weight at which we begin to move toward a fulfilling lifestyle”, this is defined by the “Healthy at Every Size Movement”, which advocates that health ought to be defined by measures of health (ie blood levels, physical presentation of problems, etc), not weight. I have many clients who have phenomenal lab work, have developed a healthy relationship with food, and have a balanced lifestyle of activity, who are in various BMI categories. I truly believe we all deserve to have a positive relationship with our bodies, our minds, and our health, and letting go of the scale is a great place to start! If you have interest in understanding more about healthy body image & a balanced lifestyle contact me at or 801-376-8228. I will be starting community based education groups on healthy body image & intuitive eating in the fall of 2013.

Steff said...

I am so disappointed by this. His response totally misses the mark. Do you really agree with this Cjane?

First of all, he only focuses on mortality rates. That is such a small part of the whole picture. What about heart attacks? Alzheimer's? Dementia? Cancer? Arthritis? Sleep disorders? Depression? Stroke? Diabetes? I could go on and on because obesity puts you at a much greater risk for so many chronic diseases and illnesses.

As a former obese person, I have to say that the quality of life I have now FAR exceeds what I had then. And the sad part is that while I was obese, I had no idea what I was missing out on. Now I know, and I'll never go back.

I don't say these things to be mean or to bully or to cause anyone body issues. To me it is just a shame (and a lie) to try to convince obese people that they are "healthy." In the same vein, it is true that not all skinny people are "healthy." Everyone needs to work at eating healthy foods and exercising, regardless of body weight.

Carolyn said...

I am just so excited that you responded to my comment!!!! Thank you for making me feel like you read what I write! As for the study, it was very interesting, as were the comments. I didn't read all of them, but what I read made me think. I am sure our society does put too much emphasis on what weight we should's like when my pediatrician tells me my baby isn't in the right percentile of weight...give me a break! She is a fine healthy baby girl! I still think that if a person is having health issues related to their weight and told to loose weight (or even gain weight), than it is commendable that they try. And I know people who have serious health issues directly related to weight, and if they worked on diet and exercise their weight would drop and their quality of life would increase. And we should celebrate people doing this, but not tell them they have to be a certain weight--just get active and eat well!

Thanks again for responding to I anxiously wait to see your response to the gay marriage debate:):):) I promise I didn't mean to open a can of worms there!!

Jennifer said...

Well said.

Jessica said...

It always amazes me to read these comments, because it seems to me so many people did not read the same post I did half the time.

This seems like an important part of the post many people missed: "Of course, none of this means that good food and regular exercise aren’t linked to longevity. They are. "

I also think the word "always" is important in this quote: “…we also wonder if it is time to simply reject the notion that being overweight or mildly obese is always bad for patients and to stop hounding such patients about their weight.”

And also the words overweight and mildly obese seem to be ones people are overlooking or that they can't seem to grasp the definitions of.

In 2008, I lost 47 pounds and went from a size 16 (206 pounds) to a size 8 (159 pounds). I am 5'4" tall and was still about 15 pounds overweight and most doctors would have encouraged me to lose more than that. However, I felt very healthy. I exercised for an hour six days a week, ate lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean meats. I indulged only occasionally by eating desserts or french fries, and then in much smaller portions than I had before.

Then I got pregnant with my fourth child. I gained a little bit of weight before my first appointment, but was still about 40 pounds lighter than I had been when I'd gotten pregnant with baby number 3. And what did my OB do? She made this big deal about how I was overweight and how I should only gain about 15-20 pounds during my pregnancy -- the same spiel she had given me two years before when I weighed over 200 pounds. It totally messed with my head. Here was this size zero doctor who refused to acknowledge the hard work I had put in to be healthier, sending me the message it was all for naught, I still wasn't good enough, I was just a big fatty who had to be extra careful in my pregnancy.

Maybe I'm crazy, but it kinda seems like THIS is the kind of thing this article is addressing. Did the doctor ask me if I was exercising or eating well? No. She took one look at the number on the scale and made assumptions that I needed a lecture about how to have a healthy pregnancy. Health is more than your BMI number or your weight. Our obsession with both is not doing anyone any good and is probably doing a lot of harm.

Megan said...

The article may be right, but it is misleading. Please make sure you are informed before you use this article as justification to stop attempting to improve your health through lifestyle. The words we use to categorize people using the BMI are misleading, this article does a good job illustrating that, but roughly 25% of Americans are obese.

Most of us are probably unfamiliar with what a person in the "overweight" category of the BMI looks like. I think this article is a little irresponsible in spouting off these statistics when most people aren't familiar enough with the BMI to understand what "size" of people he is talking about.

Below is a link to pictures of people according to their BMI and what category they would be in. You will quickly notice that the "overweight" people are what you would imagine many people viewing as the ideal or "normal". While the people in the "normal" BMI range are shockingly thin. The morbidly obese are not what you would expect,these are not people with limited mobility, confined to wheelchairs who sit in front of their televisions all day. These are average sized people that you see walking down the street everyday in America.

Our bodies are beautiful and precious no matter what shape or size they are. We should honor them, nourish them, and stretch them. We can celebrate our bodies by caring for them and sustaining them with real, enjoyable food that has been considered before ingesting. Here is a great resource for learning how to offer your body what it needs without counting calories and tracking protein:

And here is the illustrated BMI categories link:

BMarie said...

have you ever approached weight from a biblical standpoint? we are commanded to regard our bodies as they belong to Christ and to not be gluttonous.

Tracie Carter said...

I don't have time to read the comments or really care to, but did want to comment. Thank you for sharing this!!! I step on a scale maybe once a month out of curiosity. My guide at this "shapeshifting" time of life is if my clothes fit and which set of clothes are they. I am probably 15 lbs over my ideal healthy weight and I only say that because if done the right way with eating better and being more active, I wouldn't be so winded playing "Steal the Sticks" or Capture the Flag with my kids and their friends. When did they get so fast and agile?! I love to play and like my father, that is my motivation to be healthy so I can enjoy those opportunities to strengthen beloved relationships. Pretty cool to be able to strategize and "school" my Primary kids - especially those Valiant 10/11 boys love me now! And maybe they'll listen with some interest when I get the opportunity to share my testimony with them because I first loved playing with them :)

Megan said...

Yes yes yes x 10000

Sharon Steele said...

So many of the nay-sayers reference "feeling good." Therein lies the key: If you feel unhealthy, out-of-shape or out-of-control, tired, then lifestyle changes need to be made.

Enjoy your food - but don't seek comfort in it. Exercise - but don't allow your self worth become wrapped up in how much weight you can lift or how far you can run. If at the end you find yourself 'pleasantly plump?' Embrace it and love who you are - AND how you look.

rhonda said...

I am so happy you published this. My husband has been trying to make lifestyle changes and lose weight but he has type 2 diabetes and cholesterol problems, as well as a heart condition. However, his goal is not what is considered "ideal" for his height. It's above that, and people keep criticizing him for it.

Jill Alston said...

I find this article pretty interesting and a little hard to believe. Maybe we are most healthy when we eat healthy and exercise but accept our body types for what they are.
My nickname was Skinny growing up, and I am now a woman in her 30s who weighs @ 123 pounds and am 5'7. I am considered thin. BUT I have never dieted or watched portion sizes. I try to mostly eat healthy, but I don't turn down dessert and I sometimes eat junk food (it's all about balance). I don't own a scale and rarely weigh myself. I exercise to be healthy and fit and I enjoy it. My body weight seems to go to the same weight, even after having 3 kids. I have a body type that could never be overweight, even if I tried. And I don't think I would be healthy if I weighed a lot more. I don't think weight is one size fits all but depends a lot on our body type and genetics and what is most healthy for one might not be most healthy for another.

Sharlee Ritz said...

I went in for my annual exam and had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The doctor told me that I would have to go on medication if it did not come down. I figured I would try to lose some weight to see if that would work first. I'm not a fan of medication if I can control the problem myself. And so I did. I went on weight watchers and lost 50 pounds. I went into the doctor next year and everything was normal. I do not think everyone's body is the same, so what is normal for one person may not be normal for another. I do know that I feel much better. My body does not ache all of the time, and I'm not so tired. I really tune out a lot of these weight issue articles and discussions, because I think it is such an individual decision for each person to decided on his/her own what is best. I do not feel good at 170-180 lbs., so that is not my best, but it might be for someone else.

mameelynn said...

I really liked this article. I know growing up I was considered "the skinny sister" but am now the bigger one. The funny thing is I know that I'm the healthier of the two of us. Growing up I heard "you look nice but you would look really good if you lost 10,15,20 lbs" this isn't what is important! I think that people put way to much emphases on what size clothes they buy or what the number is on the scale or what their BMI is and that shouldn't be the top indicator of "good health" I know people that are on both ends of the extremes of skinny and obese and the funny thing is that in a lot of cases they are dealing with the same issues. One example is that I have two friends that are both trying to have a baby and both have been told that part of the issue they are having with not being able to conceive is their weights... One is almost 300 lbs and the other is 105lbs. All I know for sure is that when I focus more on feeling healthy and good and take good care of myself through regular exercise and eating healthy foods I feel, look and am better. I don't believe in buying "low fat" foods I want it to be as natural and real as possible and adding all kinds of crazy chemicals to try and make foods look and taste like the real thing is insane! I don't own a scale and I hate being told where on the chart my kids sit... As long as their arc is good that's all I care about because guess what... in that % scale there has to be a 1% and a 100% it just means that if you lined up 100 kids there would be one at the one spot and one at the 100 spot! I'm not saying go out and pig out on what every you want because being "plump" is best but I'm saying don't base yours or others health on what size jeans you wear or what the BMI says. Most professional athletes don't fit into the "Normal BMI" and I remember learning that the BMI was invented more as a way to look at statistics of a society overall and not as a individual measure and only became the standard because of insurance companies looking to find ways to charge people higher rates!

Caryl Rose said...

I think this is a great article and plan on spamming my colleagues with it. =0)

I've lost all the baby weight from my pregnancy and still have about 30 to go to get back to my "before I turned 35" weight, but I figure it'll come off in it's own good time. Or not. I'm solid with either.

What is interesting to me is the different responses my doctor's give me regarding my weight. My OB, who is female, is very much into the number on the scale. My primary doc, a male, is very happy with my cholesterol, etc. numbers (which have this 42-year-old pegged as a 20something) and doesn't care if I lose weight. He says, "lose it if you want, but we rarely see numbers like this" when looking at my labs.

I find it interesting that he sees me as a person who is fit and healthy, but his colleague thinks I'm obese.

Just an observation. Thanks for the great read.


Nancy said...

I took away from this article what I think was intended: If you eat right, exercise, have healthy practices you will live longer even if you are in the slightly higher BMI range.
I am 4'10-1/2" - absorb that....I am the height of a freakin' 4th grader! But I am 130 and I am alot of muscle. My BMI is in the 26-27 range. I laugh hysterically every time my WII Fit weighs me and tells me my ideal weight is about 109. I haven't seen 109 since shortly before my wedding 25 years ago!
I'd like to lose about 5 pounds but between my age, menopause and my thyroid I'm going to accept what I have.

DaNelle Wolford said...

Hey Cjane, I'm actually writing a book on this very topic. With all due respect to Dr. Bateman, he is confusing Life Expectancy with Life Span.

Life expectancy is not a recorded number of the age people died, but rather an average of all deaths. Considering the high infant mortality rate due to unclean conditions and poor medical care, it would make sense that the life expectancy rises with modern medicine. Because of infant mortality rates, the average life expectancy for men in 1907 was 45.6 years, in 1957 it was 66.4, and in 2007 it reached 75.5.

The increase of life expectancy is due to a decreasing infant mortality rate which was 9.99% in 1907, 2.63% in 1957, and 0.68% in 2007.

The truth is the human lifespan has been consistent for more than 2,000 years!

“The inclusion of infant mortality rates in calculating life expectancy creates the mistaken impression that earlier generations died at a young age; Americans were not dying en masse at the age of 46 in 1907. The fact is that the maximum human lifespan — a concept often confused with "life expectancy" — has remained more or less the same for thousands of years. The idea that our ancestors routinely died young (say, at age 40), has no basis in scientific fact. When Socrates died at the age of 70 around 399 B.C., he did not die of old age but instead by execution. It is ironic that ancient Greeks lived into their 70s and older, while more than 2,000 years later modern Americans aren't living much longer.”
- Benjamin Radford, Bad Science Column

For me, it's health over weight, but by eating real food, I've lost 35 lbs.

People just don't realize that it's not about eating less calories or eating low-fat or eating plants constantly.

It's about eating real food. Whole milk, butter, cream, farm fresh eggs, warm bread, fresh garden vegetables & fruits, whole cuts of meat like steak, lamb chops or bacon & hearty soups make with real homemade broth. It's really simple actually, but with our busy schedules comes convenience food, I'm to blame as well!

Jan S said...

THANK YOU, Kristin, and THANK YOU, CJane and Dr. Bateman!!


I will never forget attending my sister's marathon (I'm too smart to do one, haha!) for the Leukemia Society's Team in training. I was stunned when I saw women of ALL SHAPES AND SIZES not only finishing that blasted marathon, but many finishing ahead of thinner (and presumably thought of as therefore "healthier") racers!! It was a total lightbulb, a-ha moment for me!! I was flabbergasted and quite frankly, a bit ashamed that I equated things so incorrectly! And I've NEVER forgotten that...

So thank you again, CJane! Love you and love your blog!!

Jan S said...

Amen to you, too, Angela!!

Joishie said...

Longer lifespan has largely been attributed to the fact that we no longer have to battle (and die of) infectious disease such as smallpox, polio, TB, diphtheria, etc. Nutrition definitely does have to do with it but if you look at what people were dying of in the past, it is largely infectious disease. With modern medicine and vaccines, people are not dying younger of these, but live longer to develop chronic diseases that our ancestors never lived to face. I'm really surprised he does not mention this whatsoever. This is Epidemiology 101.

Hannah Proulx said...

Boo what a major cop out. I hope you have a wonderful family that will take care of you and not find you a major burden on them physically, mentally and financially. As many others have mentioned you will be fat, sick and nearly dead, but oh don't worry you will have a long life.

Gretch said...

The way I have maintained my weight is by NOT dieting, but by eating what I feel like and not worrying about it. I don't separate "good food" from "bad food" and therefore do not feel guilty about what I eat which just
causes overeating. I exercise regularly. One comment about being "pleasingly plump". Pleasingly plump is one thing and is probably ok, depending on your genetics. As long as you eat generally healthy and are active that is. Being morbidly obese is another and I think some might not be realistic about which category they fall.

midnight hysteria said...

thank you so much for this *piece o writing* ... i agree completely, however, like someone above me on this comment list said, *it's ok to be overweight, however it's NOT ok if you cannot walk, do your daily activities, even, take care of your personal needs ...* (or something pretty close to that ... i think the key is being self-intuitive and using common sense and listening to the spirit ... we do know what is right for us, doing is a *whole nuther thing* ... thanks again ... darlene

Shorty said...

Maybe the focus shouldn't be on the actual weight or size of a person, but what makes a person unhealthy. Too many Americans eat processed foods, eat fast food, eat too large of portions and don't move their bodies enough to burn off excess calories. Many of us work at computers and have sedentary day jobs. We simply have to do specific things to live/lead a healthy lifestyle. It starts with how we eat. There are people who don't hardly eat anything and are "overweight." This is probably because their bodies are starving for nutrients and aren't metabolizing much. We have to choose to eat healthy options, eat enough to give our bodies fuel and we have to move. We shouldn't focus only on size and just accepting our bodies as they are. If someone is overweight or underweight, but that person eats regular healthy meals with healhty drinks every day and gets a moderate amount of exercise daily then that should be considered healthy.

Anne said...

Still, it wouldn't hurt to go easy on the Café Rio and Sweet Tooth Fairy, ladies.

Nick Karam said...

I think a lot of very over weight people think they "feel good" and it isn't until they lose weight that they realize how much of a drain the extra weight was on their bodies and energy level. I also think that when you cut portion size to a healthy amount at first you feel hungry and maybe even deprived. Giving up daily fatty treats and sweets and switching to a healthier eating style is hard at first. So is being active if you haven't been for awhile. Reading emotional triggers is tricky business. If dieting makes someone feel "bad" about themselves does that mean they shouldn't do it? Maybe the Dr. who wrote this article could set a goal of losing and keeping off 25 pounds instead of continually losing and gaining back the same 50. This article seems to say go with what feels good--maintaining a healthy life style takes some discipline and effort. The snacks and treats that are available to us are so far over the top--(shakes mixed with PIE--it is so far over the top--a shake is a treat, a slice of pie is a treat..together they contain more calories and fat than a person needs in an entire day!) BMI is just a tool, it is not a perfect measure, nor is a scale or blood work...but together along allowance given for different body types and with a reasonable diet and exercise plan it can help people strive to keep their weight in a healthy range.
My mother is 91--but she has suffered from high blood pressure since she was 50. Every time she manages to lose just 10 pounds her blood pressure approaches the normal range and she can cut back on her meds and she doesn't need supplemental oxygen at night. SHe also has very bad arthritis in knees--was unable to have surgery because of problems with her heart due to high blood pressure. She has a wonderful attitude and spirit for her age but there is no doubt that extra weight has impacted her mobility and ability to enjoy a lot of different activities. I agree with others who point out that people are living longer because of medical advances and intervention but life expectancy is not a measure of quality.

Ashley said...

Look, this isn't about how it's okay to be gluttonous. This is about how if you're eating a balanced diet, getting exercise and taking care of your body and STILL aren't dropping pounds and aren't a size 0, it's okay because it may not mean you're unhealthy.

Look, my husband went in to the doctor last year for a full work up; he was about 40lbs overweight, around 195 pounds. But that was the only problem. No cholesterol problems, no blocked anything, just pudgy. (He's 5'7", by the way and has since lost 45 pounds through drastic diet changes.)

His brother clocks in at around 135 pounds at 6'1". He went in to get his work up and was put on heart medication and cholesterol medication because the boy's arteries are looking like butter is going through them.

The point is, that weight is one of MANY factors in what makes us healthy. I was skinny once, 125 pounds on my 5'7" 34HH frame. You could see my ribs. People kept telling me how much healthier I looked, how much better I must feel. I smoked like a chimney, barely ate anything and when I did eat, it was crap food.

Right now, I'm 170lbs. I'm barely on the "overweight" part of my BMI scale, not counting my still 34HH boobs. I eat little to no meat, I limit the animal products I eat, I load up on LOTS of fresh fruits, veggies and TONS of water. I don't smoke, I don't drink and I exercise as much as my three children and traveling husband will time allow me to.

I can't seem to push past that 170 mark. I take pills three times a day because I have PCOS, which doesn't bode well if you have a family history of diabetes as I do. It also means that I carry my excess weight ONLY around my middle.

So with that said, yes, people can probably view me as "fat." I'm not a petite little thing, nor do I ever want to be again. I feel healthier, stronger and more whole as a person and a woman at my current weight. Yes, I will live longer so long as I keep my insulin issues under control (with meds, with diet, I'll do it all) and God willing. And wow, I'm grateful I can do that to make my life longer to enjoy time with my family.

So yeah, call me fat. Call me voluptuous. Call me whatever you'd like. I'm not lazy. I'm not gluttonous, I'm not a horrible person because I'm not a size 00. Just like those size 00's are all skinny horrible vapid idiots.

Everyone just play nice.

Ann said...

I am a physician, and I'd like to think that the message behind this post is that many people feel bad about their weight, at various sizes. They may feel less than worthy, less desirable, less attractive, less healthy.

I have yet to see a patient who does not realize they are overweight or obese. They know there are health risks to being overweight. Many are very emotional about their size and have horrible self esteem. THIS is what I feel we need to change, that being at a lower weight equals higher self-worth.

healthcare said...

good helps to motivate people to do their regular exercises without worrying about their weight...

bariatric weight loss surgery in mumbai

Laurel and Doug said...

Maybe someone else said what I'm about to say, but an important disctincion to make is mortality vs morbidity! Yes, people are definitely living longer, but quality of life is not maintained. I'm a registered dietitian and have attended two of the Comission on Dietetic Registration's (CDR) Adult Weight Management Training courses, and this is a well-researched area. People are living longer, but they're taking more medications, being diagnosed with more disease, and requiring more assistance to accomplish activities of daily living. That being said, when I work with people to improve health, it is a very individual process, and I would never use the same set of goals for all my patients. Overweight individuals CAN be perfectly healthy, but (as is the case with normal weight people), it requires some work. The food we eat and the physical activity we participate in really matter.

Natalia Garcia said...

Come on. If someone told any of you ladies that you could take a pill that would make you wake up the next day in the healthy weight range without having to exercise and eat well, you would take it in a second. I'm all for accepting yourself and being healthy, but let's not pretend that being overweight is anyone's preferred body type!

Laura said...

I do not agree with the whole tone of this article. I don't appreciate certain commenters slamming well meaning doctors who heaven forbid know something they don't know about weight and chronic disease management. Docs are in a tough spot. Take the 0B doc. He/she tells a patient they need to lose weight for their sake and the welfare of the growing baby. They have data to support this fact that being a healthy weight can increase the likelihood of a healthy baby. The patient takes it personal and gets huffy and pissed. the doc doesn't say anything to the overweight mother so that she doesn't get her feelings hurt. The mom's risk of gestational diabetes skyrockets and baby might get unhealthy large. Let's say this happens. The mother then sues that doc because they weren't "properly informed "of the risk. Lawyers are of course willing to let a well meaning doc suffer a permanent mark on his/ her good name. Lose lose. They went to school for too many years to be screwed over by people who are ignorant. There are of course bad docs in this world but come's rare. I think this article will appease certain people who want to join an enabling group mindset.

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