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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Obesity is not the problem - it is Soft Body Syndrome

We hear so much nowadays about the evil that is obesity. While I do not disagree that obesity is a major health problem that is associated with many, many ailments, I feel that there is a misguided and even unfair focus on obesity per se. Obesity is the outward manifestation - the symptoms - of the real problem.

Are we picking on the obese because they are an obvious and easy target? Obvious? - Yes! Easy target? - Yes! Right target? - Wrong!

I was repeatedly reminded of this during our recent holiday in the far North of sunny Queensland, Australia during their school holidays. Australia has some serious problems looming with its young people - America, move over - here come the Aussies! I have never seen so many soft young bodies in my life, as I did on the Queensland beaches. Sure, there were many obese kids and young adults; but these were the minority. The majority were bodies that, while they would have fallen mostly within healthy BMI ranges, exhibited total lack of body tone - soft bodies - bodies that have little musclulature, weak cardiovascular systems, high levels of body fat and weak skeletons.

I have said many times over the years that thin people also get cancer, have heart attacks and get sore backs.

There are plenty of people who are quite "fat" yet are very strong and have a high cardiovascular capacity. These people are those born with a genetic body type that has high endomorphic and mesomorphic characteristics - many of our Polynesian people, for example. They stay healthy if they eat well and exercise hard. These endo-mesos will only ever achieve pencil thinness at the risk of anorexic death. Regardless of body type which can never be altered, the real health risk is if one is raised soft, thus producing what I call Soft Body Syndrome (SBS).

SBS is the leading health issue facing most, if not all developed countries. Targetting food manufacturers - MacDonalds, Coca Cola, no matter how commendable that might be, or trying to get kids to eat less - is not the real solution to SBS. All this will produce is thnner SBS's which one could argue is actually a less healthy condition than an "over weight" case.

The answer to the problem is daily physical activity and the best thing we could do to get the ball rolling in the right direction is introduce daily physical activity for children in schools, beginning with pre-school centres. Compulsory because the majority of young adults nowadays, including teachers, know little else other than positionally static behavours.

We cure SBS by endowing our children - boys and girls - with Hard Bodies.

2 comments:

wayne said...

Its commonly visible in catwalk models, thin yest , muscle tone? no, a distinct absence of muscle as well as fat, they are unhealthy people and this needs to be recognised. THese are people who may have dieted excessively and not exercised enough, loosing mucle mass in the weight loss process. they are physically weak, and probably nutrient dieficient to the point of suffering osteporosis, remember your body is pre gprogrammed to maintain a certain percentage of bodyweight as fat, if you really bulk up the muscle there is still going to be fat there, cmopetitive body builders are in an artificual state, normally their body fat is a lot higher outsie of copmetition and they starve themselves before competition to get rid of fat. you need essential fatty acids in your diet from high quality cold pressed oils or raw nuts and seeds and fish to be strong, take out tooo much of this essential vegetable fat and fish oil and you may look thin but you will also be very weak, others may think you look healthy but you will not be healthy and long trm you will suffer. Healthy top performing athletes dont look "ripped" like body builders tehy have looked after their health and maintained their strength, on the surface they may look very ordinary no extra muscle bulk or super low body fat but underneath they are strong and highly tuned to out perform less sensibly trained people. Anorexia isnt uncommon in tp level sport, Gary can point you to an article he wrote on a top marathoner in NZ who died from this devastating condition. you cant perform if you dont eat enough high quality food.
At the end of the day yoru priority is to stay healthy by eating healtily and excercising sensibly, you should feel healthy and not be concerned about achieving a "look" you've seen in a magazine of aperson who has genes that only one in a million people possess and may have used unhealthy neams to obtain that "look" society is creating extreme looks as role models.

Katzilla said...

Gary, There is no doubt in my mind that BMI and the infamous waist measurement used by GPs are the most abused measures of obesity (the tape is red for danger above a waist size of 100cm)

I once did a body building contest (got the tee shirt never again) and got down to 79kg dehydrated (this subsequently translated to 87 kg properly hydrated). At 79kg my BMI was 23.6, at the top end of normal weight. At 87kg (still ridiculously underweight for me my BMI was 26 or slightly overweight (by the calipers I had 13% body fat). My comfortable sustainable weight is about 93-94 kg. This is a BMI of 28.1, gee I am almost obese. And to top it off my waist measurement is 98cm, so close to the danger point!!

I train for 8-10 hrs/week,have a resting heart rate under 50 and can ride Taupo under 5 hours. If I believed in BMI I should be a very worried man.