Lil Miss Fitness Freak

"And though she be but little, she is fierce"

Can Obesity Be Healthy?…Fitness Friday 27


My friends I have something I need to say…

I squatted 140lbs today. One hundred and forty freakin pounds. Thats a whole 1.7 times my body weight. I was on a high all day.


Oh and I didn’t just hit one, I hit 4 reps. Bam. Okay I’m stepping off my ego boost pedestal now.

On to the topic at hand…

Fitness Friday

Today will be more of a discussion as a recent lecture sparked a lil something in me. Rather it was interesting but it irked me..

Do you believe that there is such a thing as healthy obesity?

During my lecture I was given studies and studies showing a few pieces of evidence that just showed that just because you’re obese, it doesn’t always mean you are unhealthy

~There are some obese individuals who do not show the markers that are perceived as risks for CVD.

~Metabolically healthy obese (MHO) have a different body composition than those who are categorized as unhealthy. Specifically, differences in adipose tissues were found; more visceral and total abdominal adipose tissue in unhealthy. 

~Less inflammatory factors in visceral adipose tissue of MHO, which plays a role in insulin resistance. 

So with these things in mind….Do you think these MHO should be considered healthy? Should we then say they don’t need to loose weight because, technically, they are not showing markers for acute or chronic disease?

What do you think?

Personally I say no.


Here’s my take:

~Obesity should never been seen as healthy. I don’t care if they don’t have markers now, excessive amounts of adipose is just not supposed to be there. How is that adaptive? If it’s not adaptive, it wouldn’t be what the body evolved to include. Think about it, even muscle becomes maladaptive at a point. This is why we have a limit to how much muscle we can naturally put on. Your body cannot run if you’re 300lb. Your heart has to work harder when you have excess weight. How is that healthy when that fat is not actually needed or beneficial to your health?

~Taking a cue from that last statement, an extra 100lbs of fat is not beneficial to your health, in fact it just adds more weight and more wear and tear on your body.

~These studies are shorter term. So yes, perhaps these individuals have less inflammation now, but what about in a decade? What about their CVD risks than?

So to conclude, from an evolutionary standpoint, our bodies are meant to be limber enough to run. Being obese means you are less efficient at this action. No, we aren’t still running away from predators, but that doesn’t mean our bodies don’t still ‘think’ the same thing. I don’t believe we will ever evolve to a point where having more fat than is needed will be adaptive.

If you really wanted to argue with this, you could MAYBE say that being slightly overweight could be considered okay because 1. our methods of measuring and comparing to standards may not always be the best and 2. different bodies have different set points, the weight where the body naturally levels out to given a balanced lifestyle, and perhaps in some situations, one body may have a slightly higher set point than what is considered a normal weight …. Again a set point will not be 100lbs over the norm… and 3. having a bit more weight in the older ages is adaptive to prevent fractures and breaks from falls due to more cushioning (AND again this is slightly overweight from our standards, not obese..)

So is this idea of a metabolically health obese just another attempt to justify our obesity problem? I dunno, but either way, I cannot agree with this idea in any way. Obesity is something I see as a problem with our current society, and I feel that it is a condition that is almost entirety the result of a poor diet and exercise lifestyle.


Would love to hear your thoughts!



8 thoughts on “Can Obesity Be Healthy?…Fitness Friday 27

  1. Well-put, Chels. I’m a little worried about our culture’s need to ‘normalize’ obesity. I work at a public rec centre and every single day I see kids no more than 10 who are dangerously obese. I’m sure they’ve been brought up to think that obesity is part of the family and that it’s fine, but the real issue is poor eating habits and lifestyle passed on by family. We need a serious cultural change in how we’re raising, educating and feeding out kids. – Klyver

    • 100% agreed. Its sad how this has gotten so out of hand, but when you see that more than 50% of children these days are overweight or obese, it gets downright infuriating. What are we teaching our children? Everyone shares the same environment in a household and therefore people need to be more action-orientated on ensuring their children have a healthy environment to grow up in. Being overweight is also blamed on genetics and disorders way too much. There are less than 5% of cases where that is actually a piece of the puzzle so people just need to be honest with themselves.

  2. Hey Chelsea!

    I love that you have taken a strong stance on one side of the argument. With the exception of a few topics (i.e. Mental Health) I am usually on the “fence” and take a “patient specific approach” rather than taking a side.

    I was just wondering what basis the class was defining “Obesity”. I don’t agree with BMI at all, so if the patients who are being classified as “MHO” (I haven’t done research on this topic) are only being labelled obese based on BMI, I’d actually argue that we shouldn’t pressure them to lose weight.

    While obesity is costing the healthcare system a lot of unnecessary money, I don’t think we can be quick to judge or blame individuals, since it has a multifactorial etiology. It isn’t necessarily the individual’s “weight” that is so expensive and taxing on resources, but rather their nutritional status. In this case, I think we have to be a bit more sensitive because people can be any size and still be malnourished. In fact, I’m pretty sure that people who are underweight are at a higher risk of mortality than those severly overweight (based on a few readings I completed last year – so stats may have changed).

    I hate to play the devil’s advocate, I just think that it’s important we don’t exacerbate weight bias since it is already such a huge barrier to individuals with obesity receiving treatment and support.

    Yes, obesity is linked with Hepatic Encephalopathy, Diabetes, Heart Disease etc. etc…. but as future health practitioners I don’t think we can say “lose weight”, instead we have to treat the cause.

    Just my opinion! As I said, I have never heard the term MHO before so I don’t know much about this “debate”. I just think it’s important that we realize that yes, individual life choices play into obesity, but so do other factors INCLUDING genetics. I’m not saying we should never address obesity – in fact I am in complete support of promoting health conducive habits (Swapping in Veggies & Fruit for Candy, Drinking water instead of pop, Choosing lean cut meats/milk products), but when it all boils down to it, some people – despite how healthy of a lifestyle they live, it seems (based on your brief description) that MHO patients aren’t necessarily meant to be a “normal weight” based on the BMI scale… so why would we ask them to use unhealthy ways to achieve it? If their weight isn’t worsening their health, why are we so concerned? I just think it would be hard for people to rationalize telling someone who is “naturally” underweight they have to gain weight even if it takes an unhealthy amount of food. You know?

    • 100% agree with you that the BMI is a craptastic tool, but it is simply used as an easy way to categorize individuals for screening and intervention purposes. Unfortunately many of these studies do base it on BMI because that is a standardized ‘tool’ in studies and something that is understood and thus comparable to other tests.

      I also agree that weight can be misleading in the case of problems. Yes, those who are very much underweight are at a greater risk of dying than those who are over however, I will argue that despite obesity being multifactorial, a HUGE component is environmental. In fact, there are very few cases of people being overweight due to an actual structural/metabolic/physio issue (as said in one of my classes). Yes, environmental is a tricky subject because of food costs (crappy food is cheaper) BUT I will also argue that due to changes in food preferences/habits etc, we have ultimately changed what we think tastes good and that is not for the better. We have also put ourselves in situations where we literally cannot follow hunger cues anymore (eating in cars, at work, etc). Yes that is a fact of today’s society but I do believe that there can be some control over that because if there wasn’t everyone would be obese. The cost thing is an issue I will not say is ‘the fault’ of anyone other than our society an that is something that we should really be looking into fixing from a societal standpoint.

      Don’t feel weird about bringing up another perspective at all as these are the comments I love! Gets us all thinking 😉 Focus on the cause 100% is what we should do, but often times in our busy society, it’s the ‘I don’t have time’ but I don’t see that most of the time. I have help clients that really have no time with food prep and they end up loosing weight. We need to education people more so than anything and also people have to place a greater emphasis on their own health. Make it a priority. Loosing weight doesn’t have to be the goal, it’s more to ensure they are taking care of their bodies. When they do, generally a side effect is their weight reduces to something more appropriate for their frames.

      Everyones set point weight is different, and yes, some peoples may be slightly higher than what would be seen as average (and maybe ideal in some peoples mind) BUT I don’t think we should be overly cautious about talking about it and making it something to target. 50% of children are now obese and that could be argued to be mostly, once again, environmental. Poor habits and choices being put in front of them when they are learning about their world sets them up for problems. The body is not meant to hold onto more weight than is needed. 20 pounds is one thing, but 50+ extra is not something the body wants to deal with. Too energetically taxing and will show its negative consequences soon enough.

      So overall, I don’t think we should be so afraid to talk about it. It is a problem and is a current problem (this was not an issue during our grandparents time when they were more active and their portion sizes were not massive, etc) so we need to take a look at our own habits and also hope that the social system can tackle some of the risk factors (cost, etc) before the ‘issue’ get worse.

  3. I completely agree. Based on body fat % / where fat is being stored/organ health, I would say that individuals who are overweight/ obese should be encouraged to lose weight. BMI wise – No – because as we know muscle weighs more than fat. Thanks for taking my opinion into consideration. It’s definitely a tricky topic because who is to say someone not showing signs of “poor health” won’t tomorrow. You know? Take care! Good luck studying.

    • Yes I believe is all about the composition, not just the numbers! And never worry about stating your opinion, remember I love that because it gets good conversations going! I hope you are doing well on your exams, I have my last one this afternoon! Actually, its the course that talked about this topic ha!

  4. While it’s impressive that you can lift 140lbs, I don’t think you should be flaunting that you only weigh ~80 lbs (1.7 x 82 = 140 roughly). I know you are working on getting better but I really think you need to seek more professional health. I don’t think you’ll be able to get completely better (mentally and physically) without trying fear foods and being pushed to gain WEIGHT not just muscle. It is hard not to take this personally, but I don’t want you to – but I also want you to be better so you can take care of your clients as a future RD if you choose that route.

    • I appreciate the concern but I did want to address two points you mentioned.

      I was in no way flaunting that I was that weight (which I am a bit higher than that, but that is not the point). I was flaunting the strength gains that I have been seeing. I never want to flaunt being underweight and I have mentioned consistently that I’m still actively gaining because I am too low.

      The second is that I have a whole team behind me. My coach (who is absolutely incredible and I haven’t seen results with anyone else but him), a doctor I follow up with bi-monthly (with monthly bloodwork/ECGs) and a psychiatrist I see once a month. So I am seeking professional help and I am proud to say that they are all very happy with my progress as I continue to grow with these methods.

      The focus for some time was trying to correct the malnutrition/absorption from the parasite I had (+ two rounds of strong treatment that wiped my gut flora out) and now I am finally able to gain weight and strength now that my body is clear of those.

      So while I do appreciate the concern, I just wanted to let you know that I’m doing very well. My body is healing and I am eating enough to see very consistent gains in strength. You cannot get stronger if you are in a caloric deficit, let alone gaining approx 20-30lbs on my squat in a few months. Metabolically I’m just fine and the weight is the last thing to catch up.

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