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When Does Overweight Become Fat?

We can’t seem to avoid reading about it, hearing about it, talking about it, thinking about it. We’re all concerned with our weight. Being thin is practically part of the American Dream, particularly for women and teen-age girls.

The Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported in a survey of college women that almost 70 percent thought they were overweight. Yet, by objective study, only 39 percent would have been classified as overweight. Forty percent stated they would like to be underweight.

“Over whose weight? Under whose weight?” I would like to ask. The ideal silhouette and weight is culturally defined and changes from place to place and time to time. The Western world’s pre-occupation with thinness has gone to extreme.

Billions of dollars are spent every year on diet books, foods and drugs, all of which promise rapid weight loss and instant happiness. “Much of the diet information these products contain is fraudulent,” stated David A. Lavitsky, a nutritional research scientist at Cornell University.

“Much of the dissatisfaction with self comes from comparing thin figures on television and magazine advertising with our own. “So,” says Lavitsky, “you go on buying pills and drugs in the futile hope to succeed.” In this case the issue of weight becomes more a social and psychological problem than a physical one.

What we need are facts and a common sense of proportion. We must learn to appreciate differences in body structure, muscle tone and weight distribution over the body. It’s all right to be heavier if you have a larger bone structure. It’s just fine—even beautiful—to be heavier if your muscles are tight and in top condition because muscle weighs more than fat.

It’s easier to carry more weight if it happens to be evenly distributed over your frame. It’s more difficult for those of us who desire an hourglass figure, but end up with 45 minutes in either the top or the bottom. Such is life!

Let’s face it, there’s a difference between big or fat—a difference between large or obese. You’re beyond big and headed toward obesity when your weight interferes with physical movement, or an active and fulfilling lifestyle.

At some point before becoming absolutely fat, you became overweight—over you ideal weight. It’s that point you’ve got to be aware of.

There is a wide “safe” range of ideal weight. “Ideal weight” refers to that range in which you are likely to live the healthiest and longest. You can weigh up to 20 percent more than the standard weight chart ideals before doing real harm to yourself.

Many of us might be much happier and healthier if we had scales on which the dials registered not in pounds, but in safe/unsafe zones. Risks go up on either side. An obviously over or underweight condition may be dangerous to your health.

Stop and think about it before you go chasing after somebody else’s body—you may be better off with the one you’ve got—if you’ll take care it.

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