The world seems to be obsessed with weight. Everyone is looking to fit a certain ideal and most equate a specific look with optimal health. But is weight really that important? The answer is yes…and no. The truth is that weight is an indicator of our health. Too much or too little can definitely be a bad thing. Too much weight can be tough on our bodies because our heart has to pump harder, which puts more pressure on our blood vessels. Our joints can become stressed while attempting to support the extra pounds, and excess fat can build up around our organs and begin to interfere with proper function. Too little weight can indicate inadequate energy intake, which can interrupt the body’s ability to carry out life sustaining activities. This can lead to malnutrition, compromised immunity, poor bone structure, and muscle loss. At the very least, weight can indicate that we are not making the most healthful choices in life and that our wellness might be compromised at some point down the line.
All of this being said, weight is NOT the be-all and end-all when it comes to health. Although we tend to suggest that everyone should weigh somewhere around their ideal body weight, there are plenty of people who meet the standard and still manage to consume junk food diets and live sedentary lifestyles. On the opposite end of the spectrum are people who fall in the “overweight” category, yet maintain active lifestyles and consume a wide variety of nutritious foods daily.
Again, weight is an indicator of health. That means that it can be a sign that we need to clean up our act, or it can simply be a meaningless number. Like most things health related, it is important to consider weight, not by itself, but alongside other components. That means that weight should be analyzed next to cholesterol, blood pressure, waist circumference, and blood glucose levels. Everyone is different and not all body types fit the same mold. That means that someone can be slightly overweight, or underweight, without experiencing much in the way of health consequences. But many times, as weight increases, so too do other numbers that matter. Cholesterol rises, blood pressure increases, and visceral fat forms around our organs causing our waist lines to expand. This increases our risk for such chronic illnesses as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Oftentimes issues such as high blood pressure and cholesterol can be improved with diet and exercise. In these instances weight loss might be important as the extra pounds are likely to be increasing disease risk. If these numbers are high and weight is not, then diet and exercise might still be important despite the absence of weight as an issue.
Although it is important to be aware of the number on the scale, it is even more important to check in with your doctor on an annual basis to track the other numbers related to your health. Yes, weight matters, but connecting the dots is a crucial part of wellness and when it comes to being fully well we should always be looking at the big picture.