Monday, July 18, 2011

Is fat the new normal?

The Denver Post (i.e. my employer) published a feature article today about a new campaign here in Colorado to make people more aware of their weight and health. Weight is a topic that has been on my mind the past few days, mostly due to the subject coming up in conversation with a couple of people, and so the article caught my attention. The first line is this: "Fat doesn't look so bad when everyone else is getting heavier too."

That got me thinking about what it means to be overweight. The article implies (and I tend to agree) that people judge their weight not against an unchanging scale (such as one's body mass index) but against the weight of other people. So when society as a whole gets fatter, one's own overweight midsection looks perfectly normal. You say, "Hey, I'm not as big as that person over there, so I must be doing all right."

It reminds me of a line in the fantastic Pixar movie "The Incredibles": "When everyone is special, no one is." Now replace "special" with "overweight," and that's what is happening to developing nations today.

Colorado is a famously athletic, health-conscious state. We are the fittest state in the U.S., but even so a recent study found that 56 percent of Coloradans are overweight or obese. Scary.

I spend a lot of time teaching my children about the importance of exercise and healthy eating. Today we talked about how the bodies they were born with are the only ones they will ever have, so they better take care of them. They understood what I was saying. But will they heed mom's advice when they're older, and when overweight is normal? I hope so.

(P.S. I suppose I ought to add for disclosure's sake, that my own BMI is 21. What's yours?)

1 comment:

Grayson said...

Mine's 21.8 ( which I know thanks to a calculation site :-) ) but I must confess, at 44 I feel kind of "soft": not overweight, but not exactly fit, either.