Let's talk in this blog about the concept of ideal weights. First of all, The standard height and weight tables originated before World War II with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., and were crudely associated with mortality. Although a fair amount of research has focused on height to weight ratios also known as body mass index, or BMI, it's long been recognized that this is too crude measure to apply to individuals with any degree of confidence. Increasingly, we're understanding that your body weight, and even your fat content, is less important than your fitness.
The biology of fat is radically different in a fit person than a sedentary person. If you're carrying 50 extra pounds, and you are sedentary, your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease skyrockets. If you are carrying the same degree of fat, but are very fit, your rates of all of those remain extremely low. In fact, the data suggest that a fat person who smokes a pack a day, but exercises daily, will outlive a thin, sedentary non-smoker!
What we need is a fitness to weight table, but the research is just beginning in this area. The strong suggestion is that you need to stop worrying about your weight, and get very fit. Of course, the weight generally takes care of itself along the way!
Even the fit person will be healthier the less he or she weighs, but there's an interesting lesson in this. Losing weight is profoundly hard. In part because of the setpoint issues we discussed earlier, and in part because of all the social mechanisms that work against weight loss in modern-day America. Given this, it makes sense to focus most of your efforts on getting into very good shape, and not gaining any additional weight.
Published On: February 01, 2008