Society’s view of women’s dress sizes is beginning to change. Every women’s magazine cover does not show a woman who looks like she skipped her meals for three days. More and more, curvy women are showing up in advertisements. There are businesses and websites devoted to plus-sized women.
So, what size body is healthy? Is plus size becoming the new “it size” because of our obesity epidemic? These are questions that do not have standard answers.
I always tread lightly with this topic because my mother died at age 52 from pancreatic cancer. As a personal trainer, I always recommend best practices for clients. But, every client is different.
Let’s look at the facts when it comes to body weight and body fat:
1. Body mass index (BMI) is not the best way to measure whether you are overweight and overfat. A healthy, muscular person could be considered overweight based on BMI standards. Your body composition is what you need to know.
BMI looks at overall body fat, whereas body composition reveals where you are fat. Abdominal fat (visceral) is the worst kind of fat and it has been proven to spread toxins into the internal organs which leads to health problems such as heart disease and cancer.
2. Too much belly fat is unhealthy regardless of your weight.
In a research study led by Eric J. Jacobs, PhD, American Cancer Society strategic director of Pharmacoepidemiology, he and his colleagues found that people with very large waists (47 inches or larger in men, 42 inches or larger in women) had approximately twice the risk of death compared to those with the smallest waists (35 inches in men, 30 inches in women) during the study period.
3. Butt, hip and thigh fat is healthier than belly fat.
According to the International Journal of Obesity (and many other sources), butt fat is healthier than belly fat. Their research shows that belly fat increases risks of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and premature death.
Women tend to carry too much fat on the butt, hips and thighs while men tend to carry too much belly fat. The research showed that women with more butt fat/thigh fat than belly fat have better blood sugar levels, blood fat control and slower fat turnover (prevents inflammation and promotes metabolic health).
4. Your heart, which is about the size of your fist, will work less (and more efficiently) if you weigh less. You will be healthier.
5. Exercise should be a part of everyone’s regular lifestyle. Exercise reduces mortality risk by a whopping 50 percent, regardless of weight, said Steven Blair, P.E.D., professor at the University of South Carolina.
Aerobic exercise and resistance training attack waistline fat--both the padding you can see and the visceral stuff you can't. Scientists have even found that working out prevents the latter from forming in the first place. In fact, between a plus-size gym-goer and a thin couch potato, the bigger girl is better off, said Blair, and less likely to develop weight-related illnesses.
6. Eating healthy and eating enough matters for your long-term health. This will also help you control your body weight and body fat. All experts are in agreement on this point.
So, does dress size determine your health and fitness levels? No, not entirely. Your dress size might indicate that you need to lose weight or gain weight to give you the best chance to live a long, healthy life.
You need to know where you are fat. Get your body fat percentage checked by a health professional. Fat loss is more important than weight loss.
Include best practices for health and fitness in your lifestyle (like items 1 through 6 above) and you won’t have to worry about your dress size.
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES, CPT is a Certified Personal Trainer and former NCAA Division I athlete. Mark is the owner of My Fitness Hut, Her Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut and My Nutrition Hut. Mark’s Fat Blaster Athletic Training System has been proven to give his clients the fit, sculpted and athletic-type bodies they want. Visit Mark’s main site:
Your Fitness University http://yourfitnessuniversity.com