In my time as an editor at Blisstree, I’ve been surprised to see heated debate between experts, writers and readers over the health implications of being obese. Like many, I assumed it was common knowledge that anyone within a certain weight range or body mass index (BMI) was unhealthy, and at serious risk of disease brought on by excess weight. Right? Wrong! Not everyone agrees. Especially not proponents of the Health At Every Size movement, which is based on the simple premise that healthy behaviors are more important than weight (no matter what the weight may be), and promotes healthy body image and a “no diet” policy. Is this thinking body positive? Yes. But is it avoiding the reality that excess body fat is the root of several health problems? Depends on who you talk to.
As with any controversial health issue, the facts are all up for debate: For starters, words like “healthy” and “obese” are problematic, to say the least. Most frequently, what qualifies someone as obese is their BMI, a common way of calculating the ratio between weight and height that many say is outdated and uninformative. And, likewise, healthy can mean a lot of things; there’s no single barometer for how your whole picture of health stacks up.
Nevertheless, it’s an interesting debate, and one that I wanted to learn more about, given the fact that we’re constantly writing about the obesity epidemic, nutrition, fitness, prevention, and let’s not forget body image, here at Blisstree. So I asked a bunch of doctors, nutritionists, trainers, and experts the one simple question that opens up a Pandora’s box of debate: “Is it possible to be healthy and obese?”
Of those who got back to me*, their answers and approaches were as varied as their backgrounds, but none were simple or uninformed. [Update: A response from Natasha Turner, MD, who writes a weekly column on Blisstree, has been added to the gallery below.] Some had never heard of the Healthy At Every Size movement; one is a founding expert. Each is knowledgeable in their own right, and their answers prove it. Check out what they all have to say, and tell us what you think is the best measure of health in the comments section below.
*Editor’s note: Several doctors, nutritionists and fitness experts were consulted for this post. If you know any who would like to participate, but weren’t included, please contact me directly: briana [at] blisstree [dot] com.