By Dr. Rajat Arora
Comments on women’s physical shape appear to be proliferating on social media as body-shaming is becoming common, especially among bullies who derive sadistic pleasure out of calling names whether one is heavy or skinny.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t — this seems to be the predicament of women in today’s world.
There have been many celebrities who have been victims of body-shaming in cyber space, including actor Sonakshi Sinha for being bulky and Sridevi’s daughter Jhanvi Kapoor for being thin. Parineeti Chopra has braced both attacks.
While we may brush aside such comments, it’s worth pondering on International Women’s Day that being heavy or skinny is not a cosmetic problem.
Your body weight speaks volumes.
As the body mass index (BMI) rises, so does your risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). That’s a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Plaque can narrow or block the coronary arteries and reduce blood flow to the heart muscle. This can cause angina or a heart attack.
Furthermore, women who are obese have a higher risk of low back pain and knee osteoarthritis. Obesity negatively affects both contraception and fertility as well. Maternal obesity is linked with higher rates of cesarean section as well as higher rates of high-risk obstetrical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
Of course, being overweight or skinny is bad for men too. World over, the prevalence of obesity is rising. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that more than one billion people are overweight, with 300 million meeting the criteria for obesity.
On the other side, being thin need not necessarily mean you are fit. If you think you are that lucky person who eats burgers and fries without ever seeming to gain a kilo, you may be wrong.
Just because you are skinny, it doesn’t mean that you’re clear of disease. In fact, you could be up against many health risks without knowing it.
While the common misconception is that being thin is healthier than being overweight, the modern health risk goes like this: It’s not the number on the scale that determines your health but the steps you take and the nutrients you pack matter the most.
It’s time to give up that silly idea that skinny means you’re invincible.
Just as you keep tabs on your weight, do the same with your body fat. Have it measured periodically at your doctor’s clinic or the health club. Or just observe the notches where your belt buckles.
The fat/skinny-but-fit question will be answered in the years to come. In the meantime, is there something that you need to do? Yes, however much your body weighs, you’ll be fit and fine if you move it around a bit through regular exercise.
(Dr Rajat Arora is an Interventional Cardiologist and Medical Director at Yashoda Hospitals in Delhi. The views expressed are personal.)