Skinny is the new obese in terms of health concerns. Doctors in Canada have theorized being underweight is more dangerous for your health than being obese.
The research was conducted by St. Michael’s Hospital and Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute over five years and consisted of 51 subjects. What doctors found were patients who were under their body mass index were 1.8 times more likely to die than those with a normal BMI. In comparison the subjects who were considered obese and severely obese have a 1.2 and 1.3 higher chance of death than those with normal BMI.
The study also revealed those individuals who are underweight are usually involved in risky behavior such as the use of alcohol, drugs, and smoking. The research was conducted out of fear that the underweight population would be overlooked with so much national attention on obesity. The BMI is an important tool because not only does it measure pounds, but muscle and tissue. The health industry is so focused on tackling obesity no one is focused on addressing skinny.
Researchers from this study suggest BMI be replaced by waist circumference so the focus is shifted from underweight or overweight and instead to healthy. The Center for Disease Control reported that one-third of adults are obese but no recent numbers were reported for adults who are underweight. In 2013 the American Medical Association declared obesity a disease shifting the stigma from lifestyle choice to an illness.
Obesity comes with its own health risks such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke however so does being underweight. There are a lot of tactics some adults use to achieve the unnatural skinny look, such as abusing laxatives, starvation and most disturbing ingesting inanimate objects to fill the stomach like cotton, making less room for food. The dangers of these practices certainly present their own unique health risks thus increasing the chances of death against those with a normal BMI and the obese.
There is something to be said about moderation, proving the old adage is true, too much of anything is not good for you. While there seems to be a huge focus on dieting, working out and losing weight, this study suggests not enough focus is on being healthy. Healthy does not look the same for everyone, certainly a woman who is five feet tall should not weigh as much as a woman who is six feet tall, yet no one stresses the individuality of weight. The study did not detail how genetics played a role in the findings as some people are genetically skinnier than others and some have the obesity gene. However the same health concern should be given for those who are underweight.
Instead of just wanting to be skinnier the focus should be, what a healthy weight for my height is. While the media typically portrays skinny as better studies now show healthy is the best and that is different for everyone. Taking genetics aside the social factors for the underweight and overweight are the same; unhealthy relationships with food, poor eating habits and low self-esteem. The study revealed something that had been lost during this war on obesity, there is no skinny versus fat only healthy versus unhealthy.
Opinion By Debra Pittman