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(BlackDoctor.org) — Americans are internationally known for being overweight, and it’s an especially big perception for African-American women.  Seventy-nine percent of black women are overweight and 53 percent of all black women are considered obese. Those numbers represent a significant jump from ten years ago, when 39 percent of all black women were considered obese. Are these numbers the backlash of a rising fat acceptance movement?

Celebrities like Mo’Nique and Tyra Banks have been very vocal about their goals to expand the narrow perceptions of beauty ideals. Tyra Banks has incorporated plus size models in her popular reality show America’s Next Top Model. Her new mission is to cast a group of aspiring plus-sized models for the competition. “Plus-size is really the average American woman and that woman is healthy,” Banks has said. Some doctors have supported this notion arguing that lifestyle and genetics are what determine health, not a woman’s dress size. Other experts, however, cringe at the thought of anyone associating being overweight with being healthy.

The Case For Healthy Fat

For decades doctors have used BMI (body mass index) to determine whether a patient is at a healthy weight.  Anyone scoring above or even below the normal range of 18.5-25 is considered potentially unhealthy. New research, however, disagrees with that notion.

“The correlation between weight and health is greatly exaggerated,” says Paul Campos, author of The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession with Weight Is Hazardous to Your Health.  Studies have found that people with BMIs in the overweight range have lower incidence of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, anemia and osteoporosis than those in BMI ranges below them. A long-term study published in the journal Obesity found that people with BMI scores in the overweight range have a lower risk of mortality than any other BMI group.

In other words, junk in the trunk can be beneficial. Hip, butt and thigh fat is chemically stable fat which traps harmful compounds released during digestion. Being overweight may not be ideal, but research says it’s less stressful on the body than yo-yo dieting which can cause a slow metabolism, long-term weight increases and even cardiac stress.

Can You Be Healthy At Any Size?  was originally published on blackdoctor.org

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