By AMELIA MERCHANT
Dr. Glenn Gaesser began his presentation for Colorado College’s Block 4 edition of First Mondays by listing quotes from experts on the subject of obesity and its effects on health. Some quotes described obesity as equivalent to premature death, and others stated that the data and research to support the link between obesity and an early death is fragmented and unreliable. “Is it better to be fit or not fat?” posed Gaesser.
Gaesser is a professor of exercise science and health promotion at the University of Arizona and has published numerous books including “Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health.” Gaesser has appeared on shows such as “Dr. Oz” and “Good Morning America” to discuss topics on health, body weight, diet habits, and personal fitness.
Gaesser asserted that it is better for our overall health to focus on maintaining fitness rather than losing weight. “It’s possible that higher mortality risk is not due to weight but due to low fitness,” said Gaesser. This follows the age-old rule: focus on what you can, not what you can’t. He reiterated that much of the research focused on the link between weight and mortality does not take into account important factors, such as lifestyle and fitness.
Gaesser went on to encourage the audience not to get taken up by fad diets, but to alter their lifestyle in order to see long-lasting change. He used examples such as shows like “The Biggest Loser”, where many of the contestants gain the weight back over the next decade after losing it.
Gaesser described how many people will take dangerous weight loss pills that have life-threatening side effects instead of focusing on the health and fitness of their body. He concluded the talk by emphasizing the importance of focusing on fitness and body health throughout one’s life rather than dieting and weight loss.
One of the last quotes Gaesser included, from The Journal of Medicine, stated, “The cure for obesity—meaning our efforts to lose weight—that are oftentimes unsuccessful, may actually be worse than the condition.”