Response: Judging a book by its Cover: Can Appearance Determine Health?

First off I want to thank you for all your insightful responses. I think everyone hit the nail on the head with this discussion, that appearance does not determine health. In past races/triathlons I have participated in, I have witnessed many overweight and even obese individuals competing in these races. Talking to some of these individuals after the race, many of them do not suffer from high blood sugar (pre-diabetes or diabetes), high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), or any other chronic disease. However by carrying extra weight, people may think that there must be something wrong/unhealthy with these individuals. For the most part, these individuals have been given the stamp health approval by their Primary Health Physicians. Therefore is there really something wrong/unhealthy with them? These overweight individuals are getting their recommended amount of physical activity, which unfortunately cannot be said for almost half of our population. According to the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) almost half of the U.S. Adults do not get 30+ minutes of moderate exercise 5 or more days a week or vigorous activity for 20+ minutes 3 or more days per week.

Many of you pointed to the fact that there are people with that lie in the normal BMI (18.5-24.9)/weight ranges that suffer from: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. Denise drives this point home by mentioning even people in their 20’s are dying due to these underlying/undetected chronic diseases. According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), nationally 19% of the population have not checked their cholesterol in the past 5 years and almost 30% of the American population suffers from hypertension. These chronic conditions cannot be corrected without detection, so get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked (at least once a year). Additionally I couldn’t agree more with the post by Felicia “it is your non-physical attributes that make you a beautiful person.” I wish this concept was a more accepted.

Overall judgment should not be past just through appearance, just like the popular saying “you cannot judge a book by its cover.” Genetics can play a factor in body type, appearance, and metabolism. There are thin individuals that can eat junk food day in and day out without gaining a pound. However until you get a look on what is going on inside, like getting your arteries scoped (which is not a prescribed procedure), you cannot make a health conclusion.


Interesting article you may want to check out:

Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight-  Dr Kevin Hall et al.

The Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9793, Pages 826 – 837, 27 August 2011

“some people increase their level of physical activity, they compensate by eating more. Then, discouraged by a lack of progress, they may cut back on physical activity and gain even more weight.” (study quoted in recent – NY times article)

6 Responses to Response: Judging a book by its Cover: Can Appearance Determine Health?

  1. For the first time last year my company offered full time employees a free biometric screening. Several of my coworkers said they didn’t want to take it because they already know that they’re overweight. I think it was also partially from fear of feeling embarrassed in front of other coworkers. It’s sad but I think many people are afraid to hear the facts regarding their actual health, so they avoid finding out. They just announced that they’re doing it again soon, and I told my coworker he has to do it. No excuses. BTW I was 6 months into vegetarianism when I took the screening and my cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI, everything came back better the good. It was a nice reassurance that what I was doing was yielding my desired results of optimal health.

    • smb07n says:

      That is great that your company offers a health screening. I am glad you are finding a nutritional lifestyle that works for you! Congratulations that is great!

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