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Losing Weight


The New York Times reports, the Journal of the American Medical Association has reviewed data from several epidemiological studies determining the correlation between body mass and mortality risk. The  recent study, led by Katherine M. Flegal and associates at the Center For Diseases Control found that adults who were categorized as overweight and obese actually have lower mortality risks than those whose weight are categorized as “normal.”

Times reporter Paul F. Campos said of the study: “If the government were to redefine normal weight as one that doesn’t increase the risk of death, then about 130 million of the 165 million American adults currently categorized as overweight and obese would be re-categorized as normal weight instead.” To further illustrate the study’s statistics, Campos noted that a woman who has a height of 5’4 and weighs between 108 and 145 pounds will have a higher mortality risk than a woman who is of the same height but weighs between 146 and 203 pounds. As for men, if they are 5’10 and weigh between 129 and 174 pounds, they have a higher mortality risk than those who weigh in at 175 and 243 pounds.

By using these examples, public health officials would have to announce that those who are of average weight should gain more pounds in order to live longer. However, the study in question does not include other factors such as genetics, lifestyle or exercise routines that may still make a person have a higher mortality risk, so it’s impossible to say more weight is what caused a lower mortality weight and vice versa for individuals in the normal weight category. Still, Campos believes the complexity of this study and others like it reveal America’s obsession with weight and achieving  the thin beauty standard rather than health. Campos also reasons that the constant media profiling of statistics is what drives the fitness industry to “cure” and “treat” their “condition.” Campos also notes this allows the fitness industry and pharmaceutical companies to determine what will be the next diet fad or weight loss drug.

Beyond this, confirms that the “normal” weight medical and fitness professionals prescribe to us usually stem from outdated standards. For example, there were several reports last summer regarding women’s clothing and sizing. These reports showcased how various designers in the fashion industry may use sizing charts from women during World War II or from countries where the women may be malnourished and have smaller body shapes. With this information in mind, it is best for a person to just eat balanced meals and exercise regularly than trying to achieve an unrealistic or even outdated body type.


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