Fit vs. Fat: What's Weight Got to Do With It?

by Philip Walker, MS on Feb 01, 2001

B y P h i l i p Wa l k e r, M S Fi t Ve r s u s Fa t : What's Weight Got to Do With It? Why fitness professionals should emphasize exercise-- not weight loss--for their overweight and obese clients. Jean is a stay-at-home mother of two girls who, like most parents today, leads a very hectic lifestyle. She is attractive, eats a healthy diet and jogs three miles several times a week. But at 5 feet 6 inches and 202 pounds, Jean is obese--according to federal guidelines (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute [NHLBI] 1998). She has been trying in vain to lose 15 pounds for many years. Consequently, she has become frustrated at her failure. She admits that her weight is a disappointing issue in her otherwise happy existence. Aesthetic appearance is not Jean's main concern; she simply wishes to lose weight to become a healthier mother and wife. It is well documented that being overweight--or, worse, obese-- is associated with numerous serious health risks (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] 1996). However, the key question for Jean (and thousands more just like her) is whether losing weight would actually lower these health risks or whether she is better off just the way she is. While most health care professionals would emphatically and enthusiastically encourage the weight loss, new research suggests that a different approach might be more beneficial in the long run. February 2001 IDEA HEALTH & FITNESS SOURCE Risk Factors Associated With Being Overweight or Obese The term overweight means having an excess of body weight compared to set standards. The excess weight may come from muscle, bone, fat and/or body water. The term obese means having an abnormally high proportion of body fat. Being overweight or obese puts one at increased risk for the following: diabetes heart disease stroke hypertension gallbladder disease osteoarthritis sleep apnea and other breathing problems some forms of cancer (uterine, breast, colorectal, kidney and gallbladder) Additionally, obesity is associated with: high blood cholesterol pregnancy complications menstrual irregularities hirsutism (presence of excess body and facial hair) stress incontinence (urine leakage caused by weak pelvic floor muscles) psychological disorders, such as depression increased surgical risk Source: NIH Publication No. 96-4158, July 1996; updated June 2000.

IDEA Health Fitness Source , Volume 2002, Issue 2

© 2001 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Philip Walker, MS IDEA Author/Presenter