Can You Be Healthy at Any Size?

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First, it is true that the number on the scale does not tell the whole story about your health.

Body weight and body mass index (BMI) doesn’t take into account body composition. A very muscular person may have a BMI that’s considered overweight or obese, when they are no such thing. On the flip side of the coin, someone with a low BMI may still have a high amount of visceral fat—the so-called “skinny-fat” phenomonen—which increases disease risk.

See also: The Perils of Being Skinny-Fat

It’s worth pointing out that the conventional criteria for healthy body weight are based primarily on Caucasian body types and may not be appropriate for people of all races and ethnicities.

Overweight Bias and Discrimination

It’s also true that people who are overweight face bias and discrimination, and this unfortunately extends into the arena of health care. Numerous studies have shown that overweight and obese patients often receive substandard care and less support from their health care providers. Because obesity is more prevalent among low-income individuals and minorities, a bias against patients who are overweight can disproportionately affect these disadvantaged groups and contribute to a downward spiral of poor outcomes.

One of the goals of the Health at Every Size movement is to fight against the stigma and stereotypes associated with being overweight, and to advocate for equal access and treatment, regardless of size.