Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Fit for life: why fat is not the problem

Fit for life: why fat is not the problem
February 24, 2005

YOU can be fat and healthy. It sounds like heresy, but it's the message of a leading Sydney nutritionist and author, who says our medicos and politicians have created a moral panic about obesity that could be doing more harm than good.

Sydney University's Jenny O'Dea is outraged at claims this week by University of Queensland researcher Alan Lopez that obesity is the new tobacco.

And she has a message for those self-satisfied stick insects out there.

Fat, fit men have a much lower risk of heart attack than slim, couch potato men.

Yes, wait for it, fat is not the root of all evil. You can also be thin and unhealthy.

O'Dea, who has written a book, Positive Food for Kids, says the approach of blaming the victims for the nation's weight gain is backfiring badly.

Her research has found overweight patients are deterred from going to the doctor because they don't want to be lectured by a profession they believe is prejudiced against them.

The media hype over obesity has spawned an explosion of fad dieting, which research shows will only add to long-term weight gain.

And by focusing on weight loss as the goal, the obesity-is-bad juggernaut has diverted attention from what should be the real message – the promotion of a healthy, active lifestyle as the means to preventing medical problems.

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