I believe in synchronicity because many times when I am ruminating about an issue up pops the information that I need.
The issue that I have been thinking about for a while is weight gain and obesity in older people (women in particular). And how obesity is defined by the use of certain parameters like the BMI.
I have noticed that as I get older I have accumulated weight with hardly any effort and find it very hard to lose the weight. There are many factors that contribute to weight gain in older women besides just overeating. Let me list a few.
Some of the factors are decreased metabolism, or we don’t need as many calories and don’t burn up the calories as efficiently. This also makes it difficult to lose weight by reducing caloric intake. I know with me my metabolism seems to slow down even more if I restrict calories. Another factor is the natural loss of muscle as we age. Muscle helps our bodies burn calories. Stress from worrying about weight loss, among other things I worry about, can cause increase cortisol which then results in my body wanting to hold onto weight. Many older women have hypothyroidism which again affects the metabolism. And there can be a genetic predisposition and your body’s natural make-up that leads to being a larger size.
For all these reasons and more older people (women) many times end up in the overweight and obese section of the weight chart at the doctor’s office. I say that there needs to be a change at the way we look at weight, and older people should not be compared to younger people when it comes to defining obesity.
There can be dangers with dieting. Dieting often leads to muscle loss instead of fat loss. It is actually dangerous for older people to lose muscle because this can affect balance which can lead to falls and worse. Studies have shown that low weight is worse for recovery from surgery than being overweight.
So today I found a great article on Next Avenue that really resonates with what I have been thinking called ” Why Our Culture is Obsessed with Thinness,” by Patricia Corrigan.
Here is just one of the many excerpts from the article I loved about how nutsy we are about diet that even when women were in hospice with cancer they refused to eat desert.
Consider this: A hospice chef in Wisconsin told a science journalist that many of the dying women who were still able to eat “refused bread, salad dressing, butter, chocolate, desserts and other ‘fattening’ foods.”
You’re on your last lap, and you think it is imperative to pass up salad dressing and say “no” to chocolate?
Another point Patricia makes, which I have been thinking about as well, is that people naturally come in all different shapes and sizes with different genetic make-ups and it is unrealistic and wrong to expect everyone to fit into these narrow parameters that are considered normal by our society.
She also shares information about another author who has written a book about this topic, Harriet Brown “Body of Truth,” which I intend to read. In fact, I could quote Patricia’s whole article verbatim but I will let those interested click on the link above to read for themselves. I will share this information in the article from Harriet Brown’s book:
- dieting and weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting) leads to unhealthy physical and psychological effects
- physical and psychological damage comes from being rigid, chaotic and fearful about eating
- people unhappy with their weight are more likely to give up on health-positive activities than heavy people who are satisfied with their weight
- whether you diet or don’t, you are going to die
Patricia and others have made the point that weight loss has become a big industry with pharmaceuticals and all kinds of diet specialists and diet foods. I suggest, along with Patricia, Harriet and others that we take a critical look at the current cultural spin on weight and start to “change the conversations about weight and health with ourselves, our families, our friends and our doctors.”
I intend to take her article with me to my next doctors appointment.