Why ‘big’ doesn’t always mean unhealthy: 5 big reasons the number on your scales doesn’t determine how fit or healthy you are

Written by Darrell Freeman, Founder and MD of plus-size male clothing brand, www.BigDudeClothing.co.uk

UnhealthyThere is a large focus in the modern world on body image and the idea of body perfection, where these images are plastered all over social media and on our screens. Whilst it is true that progress has been made towards accepting different body types and feeling confident in one’s own body, there still remains a certain element of prejudice on the topic.

There is a misconception that being heavy or plus-sized automatically means being unhealthy or unfit, however this isn’t always the case. Below are just 5 reasons as to why your weight doesn’t always determine how fit or healthy you are.

Medical reasons that lead to being overweight/make it very hard to lose weight

Health issues can cause people to be more susceptible to weight gain, whilst making it particularly hard to lose weight. This means that someone who leads a normal lifestyle and eats healthily, may still weigh more than a counterpart who does not have the same issues. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) for example, can significantly slow down your metabolism making you more sensitive to weight gain. As the body still needs to consume a certain number of calories for daily bodily functions this can make it difficult to lose/shift weight.

Muscle is denser than fat

Whilst 1 pound of fat has the same weight as 1 pound of muscle (the same as 1 pound of feathers weighs the same as 1 pound of bricks), muscle is a lot more dense than fat. This essentially means that fat takes up more space than muscle. Therefore someone who may conceivably look the same as another can actually weigh significantly more on the scales due to the difference in body composition.

BMI can be misleading

This distinction between fat and muscle can mean that a person’s BMI (or body mass index) can give deceptive, and oftentimes confusing, results. Popular examples of this include Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson in his prime and even Brad Pitt in Fight Club, all of whom were classed as ‘obese’ or ‘overweight’ according to their BMIs.

It is of course important to look after one’s health and fitness, however BMI results shouldn’t be taken as gospel, as the results can often be deceptive and even quite damaging if they are your sole focus.

Different body types can be expected to weigh differently

The problem with the fixation on the ‘ideal size’ or ‘ideal weight’ is that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, and therefore we can’t realistically be expected to all weigh below a certain amount. For example, a man who wears a size XLT cannot be expected to register the same weight on the scales as someone who wears an extra small size.

Exercise can help prevent heart disease/strokes and may not necessarily lead to weight loss

Whilst being overweight can lead to increased health risks, research has shown that exercise can decrease these risks. Exercising regularly can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, irrelevant of BMI, showing that weight and bad health aren’t always mutually exclusive. Furthermore, whilst exercise is good for health in general, it doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss alone. Weight loss is dependent on other factors as well, such as metabolic rates, and what you eat. This means that someone who exercises regularly, could weigh more on the scales due to other factors.