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Fitness, not Fatness Better Predictor of Health

Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 in Blog Posts | 2 comments

“Researchers, clinicians, and public health officials should focus on physical activity and fitness-based interventions rather than weight-loss driven approaches to reduce mortality risk.”

I  remember literally scoffing about 10 years ago as a family doctor when I first heard you could be ‘fit and fat’. I am so glad I learned more. The quote is linked to a meta-analysis looking at ten studies on fitness and BMI. I can get behind this conclusion! Fitness was the best predictor of health, not fatness…

Here’s another article on the study that is worth a read. I’d love to write more, but no time, no time!

Why does this relate to kids? Because there is so much worry about children and weight, and all the worry leads to many parents putting kids on diets and causing far more harm than good (bigger kids and more disordered eating.)  If your child’s BMI isn’t in the “normal” range, it’s not a death sentence. It’s far more complex.

Did you make a conversion from weight to health focused thinking? What helped you make that transformation? What convinced you?

Elsewhere this week on the interwebs:

Family meals, getting good sleep, decreasing stress, enjoying regular, balanced meals and moving in fun and sustainable ways leads to better health.

Mainly because I LOVE the title (publichealthrants) let me know what you think about this one about poverty and public health and feeding kids…

Still worried about fat? Another thoughtful post on why you shouldn’t fear fat from Mealtime Hostage.


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  1. kisekileia

    I think that when focusing on physical fitness, we have to be very careful not to shame those who cannot be physically fit for whatever reason. I have chronic fatigue syndrome or something similar, I’ve had it most (if not all of my life), and I wasn’t diagnosed until last year. For years, I blamed myself for my inability to exercise and listened to the people who insisted that I just needed to work out more and that exercising would somehow magically give me more energy. I know now that the exercise –> more energy concept doesn’t apply to my body, but I still hear it way too often. I also have developmental coordination disorder, which rules out a lot of athletic activities. I think that with a child or adult whose physical capabilities are markedly below normal, it’s important to look for a medical cause rather than just criticizing them for (allegedly) not getting enough exercise.

    It’s also important to consider that people with physical issues (including high body weight) have often had traumatic experiences with school phys ed classes or other athletic activities, and therefore have extremely negative emotional associations with exercise. If schools want kids to get more fit, they need to make phys ed optional; I suspect that, like with eating, pressuring kids to exercise backfires and only makes them hate exercise. It certainly did in my case.

    Sorry, tangent. In any case, I really don’t want the societal prejudice against people who are heavy to be replaced with an even greater societal prejudice against physically unfit people than already exists. I get nervous when I hear people talking about how fitness is really what determines health how exercise is SO IMPORTANT as a result, because that often translates to harsh moral judgments of people like me.