(CNN)What are the magic words to use when a loved one’s weight is rising dangerously high? Unfortunately, there are none.
“You’re not telling anyone something they don’t know,” warned Ed Abramson, a psychologist and professor at California State University.
Most people are undoubtedly aware of their own appearance and have also read at least one of the many reports about the dangers of excess weight, he added. After all, it’s no longer news that more than one-third of adults in the United States are obese — meaning a body mass index of 30 or more. And plenty of research shows the negative health effects of excess weight, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and difficult physical functioning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To keep off the weight, you not only need a new way of eating healthy, “you have to believe in it,” said Berkeley, who wrote “Refuse to Regain: 12 Tough Rules to Maintain the Body You’ve Earned.” After all, it will be hard avoiding foods your body craves after being starved. However, Berkeley points out, there are plenty of vegetarians living in a world filled with meat — they’ve developed “a food constitution” and do not deviate from that.
Meanwhile, there needs to be more widespread understanding that a diversity of bodies, some more or less slender, not only exist but they all can be healthy. “I am all for body diversity and body acceptance,” Karazsia said.
Why do we fat-shame or make sweeping conclusions about which bodies are “better” than others, when scientists have acknowledged that a little bit of body fat can be healthier for some people than too little body fat?
“If we just focus on weight, we end up with weight being the outcome,” said Karazsia, explaining that the scale might not change at all. A person might lose fat and gain muscle but not change their actual weight — but by eating differently, exercising more, they become mentally and physically healthier. “I would just encourage a lot of people to look at things in a different way.”
In fact, there’s a significant genetic component to how much each of us weighs, according to Abramson, and when it comes to those who appear attractively thin, some people have simply won “the genetic lottery,” he said. “The emphasis on slenderness is overdone.”
While Berkeley doesn’t “accept being lured in by food and then saying ‘I should accept that I am overweight,’ ” she does believe that there is no one size fits all when it comes to a healthy weight. As long as you are a size where you can do what you want to do physically and you can maintain it, “you’re perfectly fine,” said Berkeley.
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