Can a person be overweight and healthy?


While it seems like a contradiction in terms some people can be healthy despite being overweight

Certain individuals are genetically predisposed to carrying a bit more weight than others.

There is a complex relationship between weight and health. Body composition also varies in that some people have a heavier bone structure and a higher muscle mass than others.

The body mass index (BMI) is frequently used to assess healthy levels of body weight, yet it may not be accurate if muscle mass and fat mass are not considered along with BMI. A body builder for example will have a high muscle ratio and a lower fat ratio, but if you put him on a scale, he would probably land up in the obese category based on his external measurements.

Index mass body. Rating chart of body fat based on height and weight in kilograms. Vector flat style cartoon illustration isolated on white background

Waist circumference can be a marker of risk for cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.

Women should ideally have a waist circumference that is lower than 88cm and men should have a waist measurement of 100cm or lower. If accompanied by high cholesterol, high blood pressure or insulin resistance or diabetes there is more likely to be a problem that is linked to being overweight.

If a person follows a healthy lifestyle, meaning they exercise, eat a well balanced diet, sleep well and manage their stress well, yet they remain that little bit overweight, they may need to come to an acceptance of their body type and make peace with the fact that that is just how they were built.

Aspects of health should include a more holistic view which incorporates the state of mind, social connections, energy levels and a general feeling of well-being.

When all of these are achieved, the number on the scale is slightly less important.

Questions I think we should be asking ourselves should include:

  • Are we able to move about easily?
  • Can we play with our kids or grandchildren?
  • Do we wake up energized and maintain good energy throughout the day?
  • What is our mood like on a day to day basis?
  • Do we regularly make healthy food choices?

The media tends to create the idea that everyone must have an “ideal” look and size, which can create a lot of unhappiness.

Health, though, is a very individual thing that is dependent on multiple factors including physical as well as emotional health. Part of that is how we view ourselves. When we have a balanced perspective, we are much more likely to achieve health and wellbeing regardless of our weight.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 4 March 2021 to learn more.

Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am