Weight, health & body image

rick_chasey
rick_chasey Posts: 72,615
edited April 2023 in The cake stop
It's a bugbear of mine which is a little taboo, so perfect for a cake stop thread :)

In the news today is a story about a 'rapidly escalating' diabetes crisis, with people suffering with the disease topping 5m in the UK.

It follows up
about 90% of diabetes patients have type 2, a condition much more likely to develop if people are overweight. About two-thirds of adults in the UK are overweight or obese.


Clearly, it's not news to anyone that obesity is a serious health problem in the UK.

However, while there has been some good work in the media trying to combat another problem, anorexia and other eating disorders, particularly in children, and improving the general discourse around "body image", I do wonder if the push to accept all different body sizes is all that advantageous to public health.

For sure, no-one should be harming themselves in an attempt to be thin or overly thin, but at the same time, it's quite clear that being overweight is also really bad for your health and we shouldn't be encouraging, or even saying it's OK to be overweight.

I remember seeing on TV a recreation of a study where they put different body types from too thin to too fat on a scale from 1-10 and asked what people considered to be health body types. I can't remember the exact results but I remember the vibe, which was most people chose body type 5 as healthy and normal, whearas in fact 3-4 were healthy and 5 above was overweight.



So my question is, in the quest to avoid eating problems (very good thing to do..!) are we implicitly making it OK to be unhealthy in other ways, i.e. overweight? And are we ignorant of how unhealthy being overweight really is?
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Comments

  • focuszing723
    focuszing723 Posts: 7,202
    edited April 2023
    I think visceral fat is bad around the vital organs and it's easily hidden on most people with clothes, but yes. It's a tricky one because you don't want people getting carried away with it also.

    I'd say I'm a five.

    Must do better!
  • Dorset_Boy
    Dorset_Boy Posts: 6,919
    I think there is a general awarteness of the danger of being overweight, but people generally think they are in better shape than they are, and there has been a massive backlash against fat shaming, which makes obesity more accpetable than is healthy.

    It's an issue not just in the UK, but northern Europe, USA, Australia - basically the western world.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,615

    I think there is a general awarteness of the danger of being overweight, but people generally think they are in better shape than they are, and there has been a massive backlash against fat shaming, which makes obesity more accpetable than is healthy.

    Well yes, that's what I'm asking, is that sequence of cause and effect actually the case?
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 25,750
    You cannot point out that someone is unhealthy by being overweight without fat-shaming them. It's a sad world that we live in that stating facts is considered wrong.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,615
    Is that true? That even by pointing it out you're shaming them? I mean, I suspect most people know.

    And even so, is other people pointing out the overweightness actually going to impact anything?

    If I was fat I doubt I would need someone pointing it out to me to want to change.

    For me I guess it's more around acceptance of being overweight is problematic, rather than the issue of not being able to shame people?
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 25,750
    edited April 2023
    I agree that the acceptance is a major part of today's issues.
    Is shaming true? Try telling someone that they are fat and overweight on social media to see. Name an overweight female celeb if you really want the heat from the flame.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • carbonclem
    carbonclem Posts: 1,597
    There's a pop star that a big advocate for body positivity and its her USP that shes big and proud, bootylicous etc etc.
    When I've seen her perform live, she seems unable to catch her breath a fair bit, but it seems its beyond comment without being derogatry. Makes no sense to me and I really think it encourages unhealthy attitudes, but, I also don't want to come across all boomer, so maybe I'm missing something?
    2020/2021/2022 Metric Century Challenge Winner
  • I agree , normalising obesity is storing up a big health risk for the future. I am just back from cycling the length of New Zealand and obesity is even more common than here in the UK, especially in the Maori population.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,615
    edited April 2023
    I think there some conflation here between acceptance and shaming people in public.

    I think there's quite a gap between the two.

    Clearly there are other health issues to consider, mental health, eating disorders (which are truly awful if you've ever encountered one), so I don't think being disappointed you can't call a fat celebrity to their face that they're fat is necessarily the answer.

    But I do recognise there is a bit of a taboo about discussing weight at any level.
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,738
    This thread has triggered me, I'm going to have to have a doughnut to recover.

    I mean yes it's a problem - I remember when I first got into cycling I was around 12stone (down from a fairly constant 13.5 in my 20s) and the secretary in the department office politely enquired if I had an eating disorder.

    I watch a lot of grassroots football just through coaching and even adults who are taking part in sport are very often carrying a fair bit of excess weight - I'm talking 7-8 kg upwards not a couple of lbs.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • My personal view is that we have a duty of care to each other. Anyone who has eating habits that harm them should be offered support, as much of it has its roots in mental health and self esteem issues. Telling someone they are overweight (or underweight) is probably not that helpful as they already know this in all likelihood. Trying to understand where their eating habits come from and why they take the choices they do is probably more beneficial.

    I do agree that there has become this trend towards accepting unhealthy eating habits in an attempt to not shame anyone. I would say, as per my paragraph above, we often don't know the hidden causes. I remember reading about a female writer who is significantly overweight. She was sexually assaulted as a child and was deliberately overweight as in her mind, this made her unattractive, and less likely to be abused again. We can go down the fat shaming route, but it can be a complex issue for many people, linked to other serious underlying challenges they face.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,490
    I think part of the issue is that you can gain quite a bit of weight and genuinely not see it in yourself. I couldn’t gain weight in my early 20s and ate as much rubbish as I wanted. I was stuck at less than 11 stone at 6’ 1” tall. Within a year of getting married and having my first child my weight started to increase steadily and after about 10 years I was over 15 stone. I was obviously aware I’d gained weight and was probably overweight but wasn’t seeing the extent of it in the mirror. It was eventually a photo taken at a school reunion that made me realise just how fat I’d got and that it was time to do something about it.

    Clothing sizes don’t help, even at my largest and with the excess weight being around my stomach I was generally still wearing 34” waist trousers which seemed reasonable whereas when I finally measured it was actually 38”.

    Even now I rely on exercise to compensate for eating way too much unhealthy food and probably just about tread the line at the top end of a healthy weight. If I stop running for any period the weight soon comes back and I know that I really should be watching my diet more.

    It really is a challenging subject though. I worry about it with Mrs P, she doesn’t eat much at all but seems to gain weight and there are quite a few health issues in the family where weight is a factor but how do you raise a concern without it sounding insulting or critical (especially when there is no obvious over-eating)?
  • Wheelspinner
    Wheelspinner Posts: 6,562
    I walk around the local shopping centres absolutely horrified at the gross obesity on display.

    A friend here is one of them. She's *seriously* overweight, never done a days exercise in her adult life. Has complained bitterly that she's had to wait so long on the public health queue to have knees and hips replaced, when the blunt answer is the reason she needs it is because she's just plain fat, and lazy.

    Public health costs associated with obesity and "lifestyle" choices will be the end of public health IMO.


    Open One+ BMC TE29 Seven 622SL On One Scandal Cervelo RS
  • Jezyboy
    Jezyboy Posts: 2,912
    Is someone else's ticktock feed showing them plus size travel tips too?!
  • orraloon
    orraloon Posts: 12,675
    WS' views chime. I'm regularly surprised by the body shapes and numbers of I see when out and about, more so when the sun shines. I don't understand why people let themselves degenerate so far. And no it's not genetic; look at photos from earlier times when less food and calories freely available, the only fatties were the rich barstewards.

    Plus don't understand this preoccupation with huge female erses. People even photoshop them bigger 🤔

    Sez no lightweight. But I'm big, not fat.
  • I think there is a general awarteness of the danger of being overweight, but people generally think they are in better shape than they are, and there has been a massive backlash against fat shaming, which makes obesity more accpetable than is healthy.

    It's an issue not just in the UK, but northern Europe, USA, Australia - basically the western world.

    I've got somewhat conflicting views on this.

    On the one hand, my "personal responsibility" gene makes me tend to be somewhat unsympathetic - if you're overweight then do something about it by eating less and exercising more.

    On the other hand, it is very hard to work against nature. We're "hard-wired" to do what is necessary to survive and evolution hasn't caught up with the fact that since some time in the 70s and 80s, excessive calories are widely available to the masses for the first time. So we collectively eat when we can, because the gene that predisposes you to pass up on food has largely been eliminated via natural selection. So we tend to eat too much. Previous generations weren't more strong-willed. They just didn't have the same access to calories that we do now.

    My sister often complains to me that she got the sh*t end of the stick genetically because her "go to" action in response to stress is to eat whereas mine is to exercise. I didn't have the heart to tell her that my habit has its downsides (the cost of bikes!) and that I probably eat at least twice as much as she does despite our very different places on the distribution of body composition statistics.

    Having seen the challenges my Sis has faced over the years, on balance, I tend towards the "Don't 'fat shame'" route, if only because fat-shaming people is likely to make them stressed, which they'll address in the short term by eating. So I'm not against "tough love" per se. I just don't think it's likely to work with food consumption.

    Education, in a supportive environment is the way to go, maybe. I thought there'd perhaps be a mass change in approach when it became clear that being obese dramatically increased one's chances of succumbing to Covid, but I think the success of vaccines put paid to that.
  • southdownswolf
    southdownswolf Posts: 1,525
    I've been emptying the loft recently and came across some old school photos from about 35 years ago. There was one kid (and only 1) in our year that was considered fat. I looked at the photos and realised that he would probably be considered average weight at most nowadays. The problem has really escalated in the last 20 or so years, a combination of less physical education at schools and the volume of fast food consumed. Even at home a lot of kids eat frozen food, full of chemicals and drink caffeine laden "energy" drinks.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,490
    There seems to be two extremes these days. You have the bulging (pun intended) number of obese and inactive people on one hand and then on the other probably more people than ever who are obsessed with the gym or ever more extreme endurance tests such as Ironman or ultra marathons. When I first started cycling in the late 80s people thought doing a 60 mile ride on a Sunday and being able to go into work on a Monday made me superhuman. Hardly anyone did that level of exercise whereas now you still get that reaction from some whilst many others will have done something more demanding.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,615
    I thought it was pretty much established exercise basically doesn't really lose you weight and it's really all about diet.
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 25,750

    I thought it was pretty much established exercise basically doesn't really lose you weight and it's really all about diet.

    Quote as many reports as you like but I lost 3 stone by becoming a born again cyclist without changing my diet. I became a born again cyclist due to noticing I was becoming obese.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,615
    edited April 2023
    pblakeney said:

    I thought it was pretty much established exercise basically doesn't really lose you weight and it's really all about diet.

    Quote as many reports as you like but I lost 3 stone by becoming a born again cyclist without changing my diet. I became a born again cyclist due to noticing I was becoming obese.
    Sure, I don't doubt that at the extreme ends exercise obviously does, but I think a) cycling is fairly unusual in that you can spend a lot of calories for a long time and b) you do really need to be quite fit to put out enough power to get through the calories enough to be material to your weight.
  • wallace_and_gromit
    wallace_and_gromit Posts: 3,067
    edited April 2023

    I thought it was pretty much established exercise basically doesn't really lose you weight and it's really all about diet.

    I think it depends on how much of each one does.

    I generally exercise 6 times a week. A typical weekday session of an hour chugs through 600-800 calories. The longer weekend sessions are probably worth 1000 calories each. So that's maybe 5000 calories a week through exercise, before you get to the calories burnt off when you're feeling pleasantly warm for the hour of so afterwards.

    I largely maintain my weight throughout the year, albeit with a kilo or two added over Christmas and a kilo or two lost during the higher intensity race preparation phase of training. (Intervals => glow for two hours afterwards rather than one). So I must match my calories in and out.

    It's a largely philosophical question as to whether I maintain my weight due to exercising to burn off the calories I eat over and above what I need to survive if idle, or due to only eating enough to fuel the exercise I do. I weight myself regularly, and if I'm trending in the wrong direction, I'll cut back on beer and snacks, and slip in some longer runs rather than going to the home gym over the next couple of weeks.

    If by exercise people mean bobbing up and down the pool for ten minutes very slowly or lifting a couple of weights and then posing in front of the mirror at the local gym, then you'll only maintain the desired relationship between calories in and out via what you eat.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,615
    edited April 2023
    I guess what I mean is as a public health tool, in aggregate, requiring exercise has not improved the collective overweightness, as people either tend to eat more or don't do enough / are fit enough for it to make a difference.

    I know it's obvious but someone who can only average 23kph and someone who can average 33kph > the amount of calories burned averaging 33kph is a hell of a lot more, even if perceived effort is less for the fitter, faster rider.
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 25,750
    I think the exercise to diet ratio is directly proportional to overweight ratio. If you are close to healthy then diet has more impact.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • laurentian
    laurentian Posts: 2,386

    I've been emptying the loft recently and came across some old school photos from about 35 years ago. There was one kid (and only 1) in our year that was considered fat. I looked at the photos and realised that he would probably be considered average weight at most nowadays. The problem has really escalated in the last 20 or so years, a combination of less physical education at schools and the volume of fast food consumed. Even at home a lot of kids eat frozen food, full of chemicals and drink caffeine laden "energy" drinks.

    It seems a terrible shame to me that "cheap" food is bad food
    Wilier Izoard XP
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,490

    I thought it was pretty much established exercise basically doesn't really lose you weight and it's really all about diet.

    I've never understood people saying that. Weight loss comes from calorie deficit. The only reason I can think that it would actually be true is that you gain muscle mass from exercise so your weight might not change but your body fat will.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,490

    I've been emptying the loft recently and came across some old school photos from about 35 years ago. There was one kid (and only 1) in our year that was considered fat. I looked at the photos and realised that he would probably be considered average weight at most nowadays. The problem has really escalated in the last 20 or so years, a combination of less physical education at schools and the volume of fast food consumed. Even at home a lot of kids eat frozen food, full of chemicals and drink caffeine laden "energy" drinks.

    It seems a terrible shame to me that "cheap" food is bad food
    That always feels like an excuse for people who are too lazy. Even with the recent inflation in fresh food you can pick up fruit and veg to make a meal cheaper than fat, sugar and salt laden ready meals. It just takes more effort to make a meal yourself and a lot of people's taste buds have got used to the junk so they don't like the taste of healthier options (I'm guilty of this myself to an extent).
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,490

    I guess what I mean is as a public health tool, in aggregate, requiring exercise has not improved the collective overweightness, as people either tend to eat more or don't do enough / are fit enough for it to make a difference.

    I know it's obvious but someone who can only average 23kph and someone who can average 33kph > the amount of calories burned averaging 33kph is a hell of a lot more, even if perceived effort is less for the fitter, faster rider.

    It will depend on the effort the individual is putting in. An unfit person doing 23kph may well burn more calories than a fit athlete doing 33kph for the same amount of time. Obviously the same person doing those two speeds would burn more at the higher speed.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,615
    edited April 2023
    Pross said:

    I guess what I mean is as a public health tool, in aggregate, requiring exercise has not improved the collective overweightness, as people either tend to eat more or don't do enough / are fit enough for it to make a difference.

    I know it's obvious but someone who can only average 23kph and someone who can average 33kph > the amount of calories burned averaging 33kph is a hell of a lot more, even if perceived effort is less for the fitter, faster rider.

    It will depend on the effort the individual is putting in. An unfit person doing 23kph may well burn more calories than a fit athlete doing 33kph for the same amount of time. Obviously the same person doing those two speeds would burn more at the higher speed.
    Maybe I am too ignorant of biology over physics but I think the physics behind that is quite clear that you need to spend more energy to go faster. So it stands to reason fitness is in large part about being able to draw the energy from your body and food and expend as much of it a possible, and unfit people can do that less. They get tired after a much lower energy output.
  • I guess what I mean is as a public health tool, in aggregate, requiring exercise has not improved the collective overweightness, as people either tend to eat more or don't do enough / are fit enough for it to make a difference.

    I think this probably sums things up quite well.

    My spin on it is that in theory, all other things equal, if you exercise more then your rate of weight gain will fall. But in practice, people give up on exercise before they've got fit enough to burn off meaningful numbers of calories by exercising.