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Con: Acceptance leads to lower motivation to lose weight

By APRILL BRANDON
Nov. 21, 2010 at 5:21 a.m.


For most of her life, Sara George described herself as slightly chubby.

After the birth of her son five years ago, however, her body weight jumped by 50 pounds.

Unhappy with her size and how she felt, George, of Victoria, set about losing her extra weight. Now at 38, she's in the best shape and lowest weight of her life, she said.

"I was able to do it because I didn't accept my size. While I like that the Size Acceptance Movement fights discrimination, I think they go too far when they promote that you should accept your size, no matter what it is," she added. "Where's the motivation to get healthier?"

While having a good self-body image is important, maintaining a healthy weight is even more critical when it comes to overall health. Medical research has consistently shown that being overweight leads to multiple health problems and ailments, said Dr. Lisbeth Zafra, a Victoria doctor who specializes in natural medicine, weight loss, detox and overall health recovery. Among those health issues are pressure on joints that lead to skeletal problems, back pain, metabolic problems, diabetes, sleep apnea and increased risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer.

"It is not good to be overweight. Being overweight doubles and sometimes triples your chances of these diseases as compared to a slimmer person," she added.

Zafra did say that it is possible to be overweight and healthy but that few people actually are.

"The majority of people will have complications from obesity. Most of these complications go away when the person loses weight," she said.

Along the same lines, while there are people who have an obesity gene that makes it extremely hard to lose weight, the majority of overweight people are heavier because they are not exercising or eating healthy, she said.

Another issue with the Size Acceptance Movement that critics cite is that with the majority of the U.S. population being overweight, our perception of what constitutes a healthy weight gets skewed. In a recent Harris Interactive Poll, it was found that:

70 percent of obese people say they are merely overweight.

39 percent of morbidly obese people think they are overweight but not obese.

30 percent of people who are overweight think they are of normal size.

Data such as this have many medical professionals concerned that size acceptance may send the message that being overweight isn't a health issue.

In an article for CNN, Stephen Nicholls, the clinical director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention spoke out against size acceptance, citing concerns that there is a growing complacency about developing obesity and it could suggest that Americans underestimate what its implications might be.

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