Is It Okay To Be Fat?

February 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm , by

IMG_5615Is it OK to be fat?

It’s not a trick question. The answer isn’t as obvious as it seems.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to watch a taping of a Nightline Face-Off that tackled this very issue. Moderated by Good Morning America news anchor Juju Chang, the debate pitted Marianne Kirby, blogger and advocate for the fat acceptance movement, and Crystal Renn, the highest-paid plus-size model, against Meme Roth, president of the National Action Against Obesity and Kim Bensen, author of Finally Thin. It was a heated discussion, to say the least, and their conversation touched on everything from fat-phobia to anorexia, and from genetics to yo-yo dieting. Watch the show here.

But back to the question at hand: Is it OK to be fat? I think we have to first look at what do we mean by “OK”? (Is it healthy to be fat? Is it somehow morally or socially wrong to be fat, and therefore okay to discriminate against those who are?) Second, how are we defining “fat”? (Waist size? Percentage body fat? BMI?)

However, let’s put semantics aside and look at the science. On the one hand: People who are overweight tend to live longer than their skinnier counterparts, according to McGill researchers. On the other hand: Living longer isn’t much of an advantage if your quality of life is compromised. We also know that being overweight or obese (as defined by BMI) increases your odds for diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, arthritis, sleep apnea and more. On the one hand: You can be fit and fat. Half of overweight people and one-third of obese people still have healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, says a 2008 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Meanwhile, a quarter of normal-weight individuals were found to have two risk factors for heart disease. On the other hand: It’s better to be fit and trim than fit and fat. Active women with normal BMI have a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who exercise and are overweight, says another study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

So what do you think? Are Americans fat-phobic? Is it okay to be fat?

Photo (left to right): Emily Chau, Marianne Kirby, Juju Chang, Kim Bensen, Meme Roth

10 Responses to “Is It Okay To Be Fat?”

  1. I think a lot of the news articles, blog entries and health advice out there contain blatant antifat prejudice, disguised as health advice. People are focusing on weight, not health. They are also concluding that thin=healthy and overweight=unhealthy when that is so clearly not always the case.

  2. Well I have to be honest, fat is ugly. It really is not okay to be fat. Fat people cost America millions more in healthcare than thin people. The Fat people who are on public assistance or disability (and many are I am sorry to say) cost taxpayers like myself BILLIONS each month. Fit not thin should be the norm. Walking daily is a beginning, getting out of the house means much less time or inclination to eat too much or sugary foods. I try to drink a lot of water and that helps. One more thing – I have 3 kids 12 – 18 yrs old who NEVER have soda pop. EVER. What a difference it makes in their health.

  3. I happen to have had a weight problem my entire life. Yes I am “fat”, I also have not been to a Dr. For a problem in more than 2 years. I am not as active as I should be (Exercise wise), but oi am a nurse and also work 1e houir shift 3-4 days a week, have a 2nd job 1 day a week, and watch my granddaughter 2 days a week. I feel people who judge someone soely on “fat being ugly” as shasllow, and very rude. I am more than an overweight individual. Being healthy is VERY important, but save your judgements until you really know the person inside!

  4. Just an addendum to my above comment. I have never drank soda, alcohol, nor smoked.

  5. I am appalled that in today’s society weight is more important than health. We are constantly bombarded with images in the media of the perfect figure, which in reality has been airbrushed to take away those extra pounds before being plastered across magazine pages for every woman to compare themselves too. The very suggestion that fat equals ugly, unfit and unhealthy is disgusting and saddening.

    I will admit that I am overweight – I weigh 168 pounds and am 5’3″. Thus, I am unhealthy, right? Well, actually, no. My blood pressure is normal, as is my cholesterol. I have no long-term health issues that require me to spend more of those precious healthcare dollars than a thin person would. I am on my feet all day at work, and use the stairs rather than the elevator to get where I want to go. I walk and cycle at the weekend, and use my Wii Fit during the week. I don’t snack in between meals, drink more than the recommended amount of water each day, don’t smoke, and don’t drink alcohol on a regular basis. And most importantly I am happy!

    So take your strict eating regimes and exercise programs because if being thin means that I have to be shallow minded and rude, I’m staying as I am.

  6. Weight is the manifestation of one’s genetics, experience, education, and priorities. If it were just a matter of personal choices and willpower, we would not see a national trend – especially concerning children. We need to focus on our priorities and address our problems as a society, instead of browbeating the afflicted.

    For example, I did my student teaching at a low-income school where children were not ALLOWED to run. The playground cement was so old and worn – it was essentially cobbled. (A girl had to go to the hospital because she tripped, thus the prohibition.) They had a huge, grassy soccer field that was fenced off because they couldn’t afford the additional adult supervision.

    Do you think that might have something to do with the students’ physical fitness? Do you think it might be a relatively easy problem to fix?

  7. There are so much lies in all that “diet” things and other “slimming pills”. Most of them(if not all!) advertisings companies are lie! I think we all are being force to feel bad even if we are totally OK. They want you to do something about it! (actually they just want you to buy their crap). How can you believe that being “fat” is bad?
    As soon as you feel fine never mind scale!
    Look at old paintings from centuries ago. Ah, beauties! Classic (mean not old, but timeless) woman always have curves.
    Ladies, lets celebrate our bodies! Buy and wear something that make us feel great: really fitted dress, fabulous shoes, bold bright necklace and let them all drop dead!

  8. If one has the choice, it is a smarter, more economical, more emotionally sound to be the “right weight” for you. If you are 5’3″ and 168 lbs, don’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, great. However, if you are 5’3 and 250 lbs., you likely have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and probably don’t like the way you look and feel…you won’t like the way you look at feel when you are 60 and 300 lbs. You won’t be able to clean yourself. So think about it from the long term, and not at 30 years old. Overweight is worse the older you get and all of the arguments to the contrary are wrong. Take it from a health care worker who knows.

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