black woman

I swear, in the past few years, the health and fitness industry has morphed into a soul-crushing machine that pokes and prods at the self-image of women — using scientists, doctors, and the arbitrary Body Mass Index (BMI) as justification for disseminating harmful messages, images, and misinformation about weight.

Case in point, now researchers are trying to explain to anyone who will listen that it is actually OK to have some meat on your bones after years of suggesting to people they need to fit within the hopefully soon-to-be inadmissible normal range of the BMI chart.

A comprehensive study conducted of nearly 3 million people and published in Journal of the American Medical Assn found that slightly overweight people had better health outcomes than that of the morbidly obese, which isn’t news, but the following is:

[T]he scientists also found that people classified as overweight, with a BMI of 25 to 29.9, died at slightly lower rates — not higher — than those of so-called normal weight. And they found that those who were mildly obese, with a BMI of 30 to 34.9, died in no greater numbers than did their normal-weight peers.

Lead author Katherine M. Flegal was flabbergasted, as was most of her colleagues, at the initial results and had no explanation for why so-called overweight folks were living longer. Most hypotheses range from doctors being more aggressive with perceived overweight patients, which leads to better health outcomes, to folks carrying a little extra weight helps them in basic survival situations, but all in all, the most important revelation might be that some in the health industry are finally ready to admit the following:

Health professionals also know that the BMI — a number that is calculated using a person’s height and weight — is not a perfect indicator of how much extra fat someone carries because people who are extra muscular may score as overweight when they’re not.

It sounds like there will finally be a different health conversation in 2013 … one that involves much more candor and compassion for the myriad of reasons that have caused a spike in heart disease, cancer, and stroke in Americans.

  • Ravi

    this is so not new. been saying this for years

  • Ms. Information

    BMI is a flawed is well known that black people carry more muscle than other races….stupid charts..

  • Sasha

    Even without the BMI scale which most people know is flawed, I’m still calling bullshit on this. You’re not about to tell me that a 200+ lbs women who laboriously walks up three flights of stairs is healthier than me at 145 lbs and practically flies up stairs. The health/ weight conversation does need to go in a different direction but this article reads like fat acceptance nonsense. Ain’t buying it.

  • Treece

    I don’t know if there will be a different health conversation going on this year, but this has been said before. It’s just that when the media jumps on the bandwagon with a “cause” (i.e. obesity) and they start putting skewed stats out there along with celeb endorsement…..that’s a train that’s hard to stop. Despite being labeled overweight according to BMI standards, I’ve always had great numbers (cholesterol, BP, glucose level). I eat lots of fruits and veggies and little fatty or fried food but I still maintain about a size 12-14….

    People need to focus on healthfulness instead of a size. I’ve been saying this all along. Obesity is NOT the only thing that kills people. There are many more preventable causes of death out there folks.

  • mrskrissytramel

    “A comprehensive study conducted of nearly 3 million people and published in Journal of the American Medical Assn found that slightly overweight people had better health outcomes than that of the morbidly obese”

    Which means 200+lbs is not slightly overweight!

    I wear a size 12 and to some I’m considered plus size while some “real plus size women” (women wearing a size 14+) says that a size 12 in not plus size.

    And it really depends on height. A person that is taller can carry more weight according to the BMI chart than someone that is shorter.

  • isolde3

    Well, how tall is that 200lb woman, and how tall are you? That said, if your “numbers” (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) are within a healthy range and you’re not suffering from any chronic ailments or dying of any diseases, then technically, you are “healthy,” regardless of your weight. However, too much fat for your height can put you at risk for a variety of health problems, and there are chronic illnesses that you can either minimize the risk of contracting or avoid altogether through diet/exercise.

  • Pseudonym

    Instead of concentrating on weight, BMI, and the like, we should just base one’s health off their performance on a fitness test. Run a mile or bike to demonstrate cardiovascular health, do a few strength and flexibiltiy exercises, and have reasonable parameters. I think that every healthy adult should be able to run a 9 minute mile, for starters.

  • Treece

    This was always the case….BMI doesn’t always tell the truth. Been saying this forever. The media has bombarded us with a bandwagon campaign to loose weight and “fight obesity” and we all just suck it up. I don’t know if the conversation will change but it should. It should be about healthfulness and making sure you treat your body well. not necessarily weight loss….I’ve maintained a size 12-14 body since high school and my numbers at the docs have always been great (low bad cholesterol, high good cholesterol, great BP, etc.). Obesity is not the only preventable cause of death out there folks.

  • Oh

    That must explain why I see so many black people with their guts sticking out and back fat for days.

    Funny how stats aren’t to be trusted UNLESS it’s saying being overweight is a okay. That’s right black people keep eating the way you’re eating, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure rates in the BC are all imagined.

  • Gail

    Most people who pay attention and understand how the BMI scale works know that it is flawed because it does not take muscle mass into consideration. I hope people don’t take the findings of the study to mean that being overweight is healthy.

  • Ms. Information

    Actually no…but also add whites and hispanics in there….ALL Americans are having issues with weight…I don’t think that being overweight is ok healthwise (Im not) but I do think that the information is flawed, one minute its horrible, the next its ok….something is wrong.

  • Ms. Information


  • Keepitreal

    I hope people don’t take the findings of the study to mean that being overweight is healthy

    This is how it will be taken no doubt.

  • OMG

    Being skinny doesn’t mean that you’re healthy. You can be within your BMI or smaller and your arteries may be damn near clogged to death. For example, one of my mom’s coworkers died of a massive heart attack at the age of 35. She wasn’t morbidly obese or even slightly overweight but she did eat a lot of fat, sugar, and sodium. Lots of fastfood. So it’s all about what you eat. If you eat healthy foods that can heal your body, you’ll be healthy. If you only eat fastfood, chips, candy, cookies, etc, then all of those foods can damage your body.

  • Treece

    Sorry for the reposting…being impatient…again

  • Sasha

    I’m 5’7″, I’ve seen woman who border on the 200 that are my height, shorter and taller. Some are athletes, most are not. Some may be “healthy”, others may not be. I agree with your comment though.

  • binks

    BMI calculations were supposed to be taken with a grain of salt; it was just a basic guide not the Holy Grail to determine your fitness/health. I never knew why others looked at it that way. Size and weight is NOT the tell-tale sign of overall health. Folks need to stop basing someone overall health on what someone look like outwardly because as mention a lot of athletics would be consider “overweight/obese” or even “underweight” base on the BMI alone, true there are overweight/obese people who are unhealthy but there are “normal” weight people that are unhealthy and underweight people that are unhealthy. Let’s stop pinning this “unhealthy” campaign on one group. But despite this study everyone should strive for their best health and fall within a healthy weight range that they feel their “absolute” physical best at.

  • B.

    I’m so tired of seeing the term fat acceptance thrown around on this site. Someone can be slim and fit one day then be in a hospital bed suffering heart failure the next. While it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle and carrying some extra can cause all depends on the individual. And so what if someone wants to accept themselves how they are, it’s their life. Mind yours and take care of you

  • THe Comment

    I hope the lady in the photo is acting somewhere….she just has that ‘look’.

  • -A.

    *abandons treadmill for a few days*
    *embraces what’s left of my love handles*

  • Chillyroad

    Extra fat puts pressure on your joints.

  • YeahRight2011

    When I went into military boot camp I was 143 lbs and considered normal weight for my height according to the BMI. After 10 weeks of training I weighed 151 lbs, was 3 sizes smaller, and well defined. But according to the BMI I was overweight. I had to be “taped” for body fat calculation. Lets just say I don’t use the BMI for a reference and neither does my doctor. Especially when I see women (white and Latina) who weight less than me with guts, muffin tops, and jiggly arms-no shade.

  • E.M.S.

    No matter how big or small you are, whatever the scale says is not the end-all be-all assessment of your total health. That’s why I simply try to focus on healthy living, rather that what the number is.

  • Jenn

    These findings aren’t new. Doctors have been saying for years that it was actually healthier for the average person to be 10 lb over their “ideal” BMI. It’s cause the BMI scale was rewritten a while back….Oh yeah, and it’s crap.

  • Jenn

    You’re generalizing the term “overweight” to mean fat when the BMI system uses it in a very specific way. Basically they’re saying that an american woman who is 5’4″ is healthier at 145 lb than she is at 130 lb.

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