A friend of mine has always felt short. And at 5’5” he IS short, but not in China where he just traveled to. He said when he was there, for the first time in his adult life he finally felt ‘normal’.
It reminded me that ‘normal’ is a relative term, which can be both a good and bad thing.
How so? Well, consider that according to the latest statistics, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. That’s an alarming number for sure. But what’s more amazing is that the same number of Americans think their body weight is healthy and normal. (1) So it forces the question: Is overweight the new “normal”?
This is a concern on many levels, but especially for osteoporosis, as studies show it correlates with carrying excessive weight.
The Times They Are A’ Changed
By looking back in time we can quickly see how much our impression of ‘average’ and ‘normal’ has changed. For instance, the average American female is now 24 pounds heavier than in 1960, and males are 25 pounds more. (2)
Obesity rates in the U.S. have increased by 214 percent between 1950 and 2000! (3) Though these figures on our figures are alarming, we can’t really be too surprised, given that it’s happened right before our very eyes. What you might be more surprised of is how we psychologically process these radical physical changes. As a fish is not aware it is enveloped in water, it seems we too lose track of our surroundings: Because in a completely different poll it has been found that two thirds of Americans consider themselves to be of healthy weight!
Meaning, just like my friend who feels normal height when in China, we tend to feel that whatever weight the majority of people are is not just normal, but also healthy! In one study more than 50 per cent of 1800 Americans surveyed reported they believed they were healthy – even when 25 lbs overweight. (4)
And in another 2013 study conducted by The Atlantic, 90 percent of 1000 Americans polled said they consider themselves to be healthy. (5)
In one study by Consumer Reports Health, one third of respondents who described themselves as being a healthy weight actually had a body mass index (BMI) of an overweight or obese person. (6)
Also, a new Gallup poll has found that as we get bigger, so do our perceptions of our ideal weight. That’s right – in 1991 the average U.S. woman described her ideal weight as 149 lbs. Today? She says 162.
The average guy in 1991 said 161 lbs is optimum. In 2013? 176. (7) What’s also noteworthy and not surprising is that most people make the same intuitive judgement regarding their mineral balance and conclude they are getting enough. But that is also off the mark as the facts show otherwise.
The Common Denominator Is…
These studies all illustrate the same point : that most Americans today think they are in shape when in fact they are not; that they are a healthy weight when the facts show otherwise. This is the most dangerous health scenario of all, because no one attempts to lose extra weight if they feel they have no extra weight to lose!
It also stands to reason that this blindness and disconnect to the reality will only further entrench the weight problem. Because many people consciously fight unwanted weight gain with dedicated regular exercise and improved diet – and still struggle to maintain their ideal figure.
Education Leads to Weight Loss
However, there is no doubt that acknowledging, and adjusting for our tendency to rationalize weight gain is a healthier plan in the long run. And arming yourself with helpful facts has been proven to be a strong fitness motivator. For instance, you’re more likely to go to the gym when you keep in mind that even a 5-10 % weight reduction has been proven to lead to improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars. (8)
While it is understandable to want to lose weight quickly, it is best to remember that the evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off.
Healthy and effective weight loss isn’t about a diet or program that ends after a certain number of weeks. It’s a lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily exercise and eating habits.
About the Author: Michael Dewey works with AlgaeCal in Vancouver Canada and writes on the many issues that surround bone health. A personal passion to spread informative, researched natural health related articles fuels his writing, especially as our much of our modern culture treads further away from traditional wholesome ways.
1.http://www.gallup .com/ poll/158921/americans-continue-adjust-ideal-weight-upward.aspx? utm_source=google&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication 2.http://www.gallup.com/poll/158921/americans-continue-adjust-ideal-weight-upward.aspx? utm_source=google&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication 3. http://www.shp.missouri .edu/ vhct/case2500/etiology.htm 4. http://www.whatsyourhealthy .com/ 5. http://www.atlanticlive.theatlantic. com/ pr/CommunityHealth/PollResults.pdf 6. http://www.win.niddk.nih. gov/ publications/PDFs/stat904z.pdf 7. http://www.gallup .com/ poll/158921/americans-continue-adjust-ideal-weight-upward.aspx?utm_source =google&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication 8. Reference for 5%: Blackburn G. (1995). Effect of degree of weight loss on health benefits. Obesity Research 3: 211S-216S. 2 Reference for 10%: NIH, NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Available online: nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob_gdlns.pdf