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Scientists are now questioning the link between obesity and mortality, even suggesting that some extra pounds may be healthier. I find this hard to digest, no pun intended.

An article entitled, “Scientists now think that being overweight can protect your health,” covers research studies that send our long-held belief into a tailspin. The article refers to an “obesity paradox,” research results that indicate overweight and even mildly obese people have lower mortality rates versus the doctrine that thin people are healthier. The article poses the question of why people are resistant to buying into the concept of bigger is better. My question is, how are these studies are helpful?

Aside from being controversial, these reports are rather disturbing. On a day-to-day basis, people tend to do what makes them feel good. The danger of a report about extra weight being good for us is that it gives a stressed-out teenager an excuse to eat a double cheese and bacon burger. It helps an overworked office worker rationalize the consumption of donuts and candies, which decorate the tops of file cabinets daily. It reassures people who dine out often at restaurants that serve mega portions. People need more information about how to live healthy in the real world, on a day-to-day basis, not battles between experts on health in senescence.

Whether your BMI is high, low or just right, weight management is an important health factor. Getting on the scale and facing that moment of truth daily or weekly, and logging intake, shows cause and effect. Tracking is empowering because making that connection between food and weight enables control, whether the desired direction is up, down or status quo. Information on who is healthier, those under or overweight, does not help us understand our own bodies.

When I was a fitness trainer, I had to weigh in an obese woman. She got on the scale, looked down, got off and broke into tears. I felt terrible and also confused because I didn’t understand why she was surprised. I then realized that she never allowed herself to be aware it had gotten that far. I don’t think it would have made her feel better had I told her that overweight people tend to live longer.