Is Weight Loss Truly the Gold Standard for Health and Wellness?

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It’s impossible to avoid headlines dealing with weight loss in today’s world. Everywhere your eyes may gander, there are advertisements and articles about weight loss galore. It’s no wonder, really. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over half of America is either overweight or obese. Complicating the issue is the fact that western culture is obsessed with body image and the pursuit of thinness. This brings me to a thought: Is the number that you see on your bathroom scale a good indicator of health? The answer may very well be “No”.

The amount of exercise you get and the quality of diet may very well be better indicators. Take, for instance, the work of Dr. Steven Blair, a researcher at the Cooper Institute in Texas. His research has shown that overweight people that exercise regularly (30 minutes on most days) actually out-live skinny people that do not exercise at all! This is truly groundbreaking. Countless other research indicates that the quality of the diet has an impact on health as well. We know that a well-balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, will also lower the risk of developing chronic disease in most people. So what, if anything, do these two lifestyle habits have to do with the number on the scale? Perhaps not as much as we once thought. Certainly it is physiologically possible to gain weight while consuming a moderate diet and even while exercising, but perhaps that’s not even the issue. Dr Blair’s research seems to indicate that exercise has a greater impact on your health and longevity than a number on a scale.

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